Nerve agent may be missing

Pentagon auditors note discrepancies at Utah depot and elsewhere

Published: Sunday, Feb. 8 2009 3:40 a.m. MST

The report added, "At Tooele, the contractor used a waste tracking form to: document the differences; (and) show the approximate amount of agent remaining in the ton container after liquid agent had been destroyed." Metal parts with hardened agent were then destroyed in a furnace.

The report added, "However, although we found that the tracking forms were signed by the contractor's custodian, they weren't signed by a government representative and the differences were reconciled and updated" in the database tracking how much was stored and destroyed.

Auditors also said no reviews into discrepancies — even when some large ones of up to 20 percent for some containers were noticed — were conducted because rules and contracts only required them if records for all ton containers at one site were off by 5 percent after their destruction was completed.

Auditors called for a few changes, including recording the actual amount of agent destroyed in databases and reconciling discrepancies quickly.

In a written response, the Chemical Materials Agency agreed with the report's conclusions. It said it will determine how often reconciliation should be conducted as one-ton containers and contents are destroyed.

It said, however, it intends to continue listing possibly inaccurate amounts destroyed in its official database because adjusting the weights would require changes to international treaties. Instead of seeking that, it plans to add a report in the data system that "is capable of showing the variances from the declared weight."

The Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Elimination of Chemical Weapons also agreed with the conclusions of the report, and accepted the corrective actions proposed by the Chemical Materials Agency.

E-MAIL: lee@desnews.com

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