The Army’s Anniston Chemical Activity said in a statement today that it delivered letters to several employees, notifying 22 of them that their jobs would change. Another 13 were told that their jobs would be gone by April 7, 2012.
Anniston Chemical Activity is the organization that was responsible for maintaining the stockpile of chemical weapons once stored at the Anniston Army Depot, and for delivering those weapons to the Anniston Chemical Demilitarization Facility, where they were destroyed in incinerators. The Army and its contractor, Westinghouse Anniston, destroyed the last of Anniston’s chemical stockpile in September. An international treaty required the weapons to be destroyed.
According to Mike Abrams, an Army spokesman, 22 workers were told they’d be moved to different jobs within the mission to clean up and tear down the chemical weapons storage sites. The other 13 were given four months notice that their jobs wouldn’t be there for much longer.
“During these four months, we’re very hopeful, I’d like to say we’re optimistic, that they’ll find other opportunities, maybe on Aniston Army Depot,” or elsewhere in the Defense Department, Abrams said.
Anniston Chemical Activity’s “new mission of cleaning and closing storage igloos and the turning in of equipment and facilities requires a smaller staff,” according to a release emailed to The Star this afternoon. At one time, the organization employed more than 170 people. It’s authorized to employ 102 during the closure process, the release said. One hundred and ten people work there now.
Army officials have said closing and cleaning the chemical weapons storage sites will take 18-24 months. Dismantling the incinerator itself, if a way to reuse it is not found, will take about the same amount of time. At the end of that time, all of the 900-or-so government and contract workers at the facility will see their jobs end.
The Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce in April received a $500,000 grant to help workers from the chemical weapons storage and disposal workforce find new jobs.