Toward the end of the 1980’s, the US Department of Defense ordered all chemical agents that were manufactured since the First World War be destroyed. From that point on, extensive research of environmental impact, agent destruction testing, and hazardous waste disposal was conducted; while the eight chemical storage army installations across the United States prepared for disposal verdicts. On June 30th, 1990, the first chemical munitions were destroyed at the Johnston Atoll pilot plant. To this day, chemical munitions are still being destroyed at higher costs, both economical and environmental. Politics, now more than ever, are publicizing alternative methods of destruction through neutralization instead of incineration.

Through the compilation of different published works, the comparison of incineration versus neutralization is examined by the pros and cons of each technique. Though incineration does emit byproducts into the atmosphere, the process has been proven to destroy both the agent and energetics in their entirety. Neutralization expels mass amounts of hazardous waste and cannot fully destroy munitions as a stand-alone process. Several recent findings, using x-ray diagnostics, have also concluded that over half of the existing Mustard rounds have congealed into a heel and cannot be dismantled through neutralization. Incineration is the only system that will destroy all types of chemical rounds without producing a more hazardous effluent than influent. Choosing any alternative will ultimately have to include an incineration process of some sort and should continued to be used in spite of political views.

Semester/Year of Award

Spring 2012


D. Gary Brown

Department/Professional Affiliation

Environmental Health Science

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Restricted Access Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars


Environmental Health Science