From WILL - News Headlines -

Newport Depot Transferred to Indiana Reuse Authority

(With additional reporting from Illinois Public Media)

The Newport Chemical Depot is now in the hands of the Indiana Reuse Authority.

The U.S. Army signed an agreement yesterday, officially transferring the depot to a civilian body, so that the former weapons facility can be used for industrial development.

For the last several years, the facility in western Indiana had stored 275-thousand gallons of the deadly nerve agent VX. But that stockpile was finally destroyed in 2008.

Conservationists opposed the transfer plan, saying that industrial development would destroy all but 44 acres of Indiana's largest restored black-soil tallgrass prairie. But Phillip Cox, Vice President of the Wabash Valley Audobon Society, admits that plans for preserving the land and wildlife are long-term.

"There's a discussion and agreements with the Department of Natural Resources where there is around 18-or-19-hundred acres that could be designated as a conservation area, but it might not happen for 15 or more years," said Cox.

Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana calls yesterday's transfer a new chapter in the facility's history and says it will serve as an economic engine for the region.