The 17 year history of the Pine Bluff Chemical Activity unit at the Pine Bluff Arsenal formally came to an end Tuesday morning in a formal ceremony attended by current and former employees and the unit’s top civilian and military leadership.
“The colors of a command are passed from commander to commander but today is different because we are marking the decommissioning of a storied unit,” said program officiant Mike Carpenter. “Today we celebrate the successful completion of the work of the Pine Bluff Chemical Activity. Today when the colors of the PBCA are cased for the last time it is symbolizing the completion of the PBCA’s mission.”
Carpenter recounted that the PBCA had its start Feb. 6, 1995, and was responsible for chemical mission operations at the Arsenal, including chemical stockpile storage, the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program or CSEPP, Chemical Treaty Compliance, and support of the chemical stockpile disposal program and the non-stockpile chemical materiel program.
U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Damon Pannell passed the unit colors to Steven D. Lowrey, the civilian executive of the PBCA, who in turn passed it to Don E. Barclay, acting director of the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency, who then returned the colors to Pannell, who furled the flag and placed it in a tubular cover and exited the room carrying the retired banner.
Barclay expressed his appreciation for the work done by the PBCA.
“I am very humbled and honored to be here,” Barclay said. “Thank you for a job well done. You accomplished the safe destruction of the second-largest chemical weapons stockpile in the nation. Today’s deactivation of the PBCA heralds 17 years of dedication, sacrifice and persistence on the part of everyone involved. There should be no sadness today. You completed your job; you did it well and you did it right.”
Barclay said that thanks to the work of the PBCA a safer tomorrow was made possible.
“I would like to especially thank Steven Lowrey,” Barclay said. “A good leader creates an environment where people can lead from good to great and Steve did that.”
“It is your spirit, will to win and will to succeed that brought you all to this moment,” Barclay said.
Lowrey added his thanks and reflections.
“The workforce here has overcome obstacles and achieved a high level of performance,” Lowrey said. “This has been one of the best chemical weapons storage units in the nation. It takes more than commanders and civilian leaders to be successful. It takes everyone involved. Our mission has reached closure and I am proud to have served alongside everyone involved. It has been my duty, honor and privilege to serve with you here.”
Arsenal Commander Col. David L. Musgrave assured those in attendance that the facility would continue to adapt and serve the needs of its country and community.
“You safely supervised the second-biggest chemical weapons stockpile in the nation and in the process you made a dangerous job look easy,” Musgrave said. “In all of your transportation operations you had zero incidents of chemical weapons exposure.”
“The Arsenal will look to new ways of doing business,” Musgrave said. “We would like to support more commercial use of the facility infrastructure.”
“Pine Bluff Chemical Activity, you have performed admirably,” Musgrave said. “Congratulations on a great accomplishment and a job well done.”
According to a fact sheet, PBCA provided maintenance, storage and transportation of 12 percent of the nation’s original chemical weapons inventory, and ensured maximum protection of the installation and the community population.
PBCA completed the transportation and supported the disposal of 90,409 rockets and two bulk ton containers, according to information provided by unit.
In conjunction with the Non-Stockpile Program, 4,682 chemical agent ID set components, 56,764 binary chemical agent canisters and approximately 726 recovered chemical munitions have been destroyed, according to the PBCA.