The highly corrosive wastes, which posed environmental and potential health hazards, were by-products of the U.S. government’s chemical weapons program during World War 11 and its later weapons disposal program, as weIl as sorne pesticide manufacturing.
On-site incineration proved an acceptable method of eliminating the wastes and rcclaiming heavy metals.
RMA was established in 1942. It was equipped with two chemical processing plants to manufacture or handle chemical weapons such as mustard gas, nerve agents and napalm. Later, the facility was used for destruction of obsolete chemical wcapons. After the war, parts of RMA wcre leased to private firms manufacturing pesticides. Basin E built in 1956, the largest of the basins, is a 243-million-gal evaporation pond lined with asphalt, which is covered with a 1 2-in-deep layer of earth. From 1957 until 1982, Basin F collected and evaporated manufacturing and demilitarization wastes. It also received 100 tons of ammonium phosphate, added at one point in an attempt at pretreatrnent. Already complex chemical wastes mmgled furthcr in the basin.