President Obama's budget request to Congress for fiscal year 2013 includes a significant increase in the amount of money to build a plant to dispose of chemical weapons in Madison County, a watchdog organization said.
The president's proposal also includes $85 million to finish fixing leaks at Wolf Creek Dam, which impounds Lake Cumberland,
Of the $411 million dedicated to the Madison County project, $296 million would go to research, development, testing and evaluation; the remaining $115 million would go to construction, said Craig Williams, director of the Chemical Weapons Working Group in Berea.
That $115 million is a nearly 92 percent increase from the $59.9 million appropriated in the 2012 budget. The research-and-development portion is a nearly 82 percent increase from the $162.8 million appropriated in the 2012 budget.
The increases reflect the priority to get rid of the chemical stockpile of mustard and nerve agent at Blue Grass Army Depot, Williams said. And it reflects the country's commitment at last year's Chemical Weapons Convention in The Netherlands to complete the disposal "in the shortest time possible."
This year's total request is $778.7 million for the fiscal year, which includes $340 million for a destruction project in Pueblo, Colo., and $27.7 million to manage the program, Williams said.
Construction of the pilot plant in Madison County to destroy mustard rounds and nerve agent is nearing 50 percent completion. The total estimated capital cost of the plant will be about $1.5 billion.
Destruction of the weapons is to be completed in 2021, according to current timetables. Richmond would be the last of nine storage sites to destroy its weapons.
The money for Wolf Creek Dam would be the last major appropriation for the project, but some spending could continue into the next fiscal year, according to an Army Corps of Engineers spokesman.
The estimated date to finish the project is December 2013. If that holds, the lake's water level could return to normal for the summer 2014 tourist season.