End is near for Utah's chemical depot; layoffs begin

Military • Weapons depot nearly finished destroying stockpile.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The first layoffs have begun at Deseret Chemical Depot, which is about 10 days away from finishing the destruction of its share of the nation's chemical weapons stockpile.

The jobs of 52 employees of the contractor that runs the plant, URS Corp, were terminated Friday, company spokesman Mark Mesesan said in a news release. URS earlier in the fall had announced that even more employees would lose their jobs, but some took other jobs or left early.

The 1,500-employee workforce at the depot, including contractor and U.S. Army employees, will lose their jobs in phases until mid-2014, when the depot 27 miles south of Tooele will be shuttered. The next URS layoffs, of 23 workers, will be in March.

Mesesan said workers are finishing up in two locations. The last mustard-filled 155-millimeter projectiles should be destroyed at the Army's Tooele Chemical Agent Facility in one week, and the last bulk agent containers filled with Lewisite blister agent should be finished at the Area 10 Liquid Incinerator within 10 days.

The depot was built in the early 1990s to obliterate chemical weapons stockpiled at Tooele Army Depot since World War II. Deseret had more than 43 percent of the nation's stockpile, and an April 29 deadline looms under a treaty among 188 nations to rid the world of chemical weapons.