Friday, July 20, 2007

From this week's LEO

It’s a gas, gas, gas
Conventional wisdom has it that a powerful Senate leader has the clout to make all kinds of magic happen for the people back home. But one thing Senate Minority Leader and presidential hiney-climber-inner Mitch McConnell — along with all the king’s horses and all the kings men and women — have not been able to accomplish is the destruction of a large stash of red, white and blue WMD in Richmond, Ky.

Richmond’s Blue Grass Army Depot is home to 70,000 rockets armed with highly explosive chemical weapons, including sarin and mustard gases. Mustard gas — chemotherapy’s evil grandpa — is known for its ability to cause extensive blisters, blindness and slow, painful death. Sarin is basically “Raid” insecticide in new-and-improved human strength.

The WMD, some of which have been stored in Richmond since the 1940s, are at one of two remaining sites — the other is in Colorado — that the U.S. government is still dragging its feet on cleaning up. The country’s preferred method — dumping the weapons in the ocean — was abandoned in the 1970s, when it was discovered the practice pretty much killed everything in the vicinity for five years or so.Better to keep it in Kentucky.

A ’90s plan to incinerate the weapons also was abandoned when officials decided it was a really, really retarded idea. The latest scheme calls for on-site neutralization, followed by “supercritical water oxidation” and is expected to be completed by 2023 by a noble little company called Bechtel, widely recognized for its engineering high jinks everywhere from Iraq to New Orleans to Boston’s Big Dig.

Now Mitch, who is desperately looking for something to talk about besides Iraq, campaign-finance obfuscations, Gov. Fletcher and immigration reform, wants the Pentagon to destroy the WMD by 2017. He inserted the new deadline in a 2008 defense spending bill amendment, which must be approved by Congress. Pentagon officials promised to study McConnell’s proposal as an alternative to their own 35-year course of “Yeah, we’ll get right on that.”

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