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Pine Bluff Arsenal

Pine Bluff Arsenal, a former chemical weapon production facility, is currently a manufacturer of non-lethal weapons and munitions. Located in the northwest corner of the City of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, it has been chosen for safe storage of 12.3 percent of the original U.S. stockpile of chemical weapons until they are disposed of, as part of the Chemical Stockpile Disposal Program. This is the only facility in the nation to be designated a Center of Industrial and Technical Excellence (CITE) for Chemical and Biological Defense Equipment. Pine Bluff Arsenal was established in November 1941 as the Chemical Warfare Arsenal. Initially it was involved in the manufacture of magnesium and thermite munitions. The facility covers 14,944 acres and encompasses 952 buildings. The arsenal’s output was greatly increased during the Second World War, during which it produced large quantities of grenades, bombs, shells, and such chemical agents as mustard gas and Lewisite. During a brief period beginning in 1953, the facility had diversified into biological weapons production. That production was terminated, however, following the banning of biological weapons in 1969 by President Richard M. Nixon. Three years later, the site where biological weapons were manufactured was renamed the National Center for Toxicological Research. It was placed under the jurisdiction of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Pine Bluff Arsenal was the nation’s only site housing the Binary Production Facility. The facility, established in 1978, was used for the production of binary precursor chemicals and munitions. The production halted in 1990 and the facility is currently being dismantled. At present, Pine Bluff Arsenal manufactures smoke, riot control, incendiary and pyrotechnic mixes and munitions. It is the only facility where white phosphorous-filled weapons are loaded. Pine Bluff Arsenal uses its expertise in chemical and biological warfare in the manufacture of specialized protective clothing and masks. It also provides international-level certification to Department of Defense and private contractors engaged in the manufacture and testing of protective equipment. Another major peacetime role played by the arsenal is that of a place for safe storage of lethal chemical weapons. It has safely stored chemical weapons since the 1950s and 1960s, when the weapons were first brought here. The storage is handled under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Chemical and Biological Defense Command.