Aged buildings due for renovation at Camp Umatilla.

Aged buildings due for renovation at Camp Umatilla.

Christopher Ingersoll/Oregon National Guard Public Affairs Office

The former Umatilla Chemical Depot may not look like much now, but the site manager for Camp Umatilla thinks it can become the Oregon Military Department’s premier training facility.

“We will stand this up to any facility in the state,” said retired Lt. Col. Fritz McReynolds.

The Oregon Military Department has spent $2 million on infrastructure upgrades since the U.S. Army signed over 7,500 acres of the former depot for an Oregon National Guard Training Center known as Camp Umatilla in November (the local Columbia Development Authority is still waiting for the Army to transfer their portion, which will be used for private economic development and a wildlife preserve). The department plans to spend another $25 million in the next three years for remodels, demolitions and new construction. After that, they will build a $39 million infantry training schoolhouse.

They have their work cut out for them. The chemical weapons may be gone but asbestos, mold, broken pipes and hantavirus-carrying mice plague some of the 1940s-era buildings that have been “mothballed” for years. It has been a careful process figuring out what can be re-used without any health, safety or environmental concerns.

Read the full article at the East Oregonian