Sunday, April 28, 2019

Seneca Army Depot Fact Sheet

Pamphlet distributed by the Finger Lakes Peace Alliance - Geneva, NY ca. 1983

What is the Seneca Army Depot?

The Seneca Army Depot (SEAD) is one of several facilities used to store nuclear weapons for the Department of Defense. It is located on 11,000 acres of rural land in upstate New York and is operated by the U.S. Army. The earliest known use of SEAD for nuclear weapons-related work was in 1944 when uranium was stored at the depot for the Manhattan Project (the government project which developed the first atomic bomb). Eleven of the storage bunkers used were found to be radioactive n 1980. These bunkers have since been sealed off.

In 1957 the Seneca Army Depot began storing tactical (short range) nuclear weapons and in 1961 began distributing “special weapons” items and repair parts both here and overseas. Nuclear weapons are routinely referred to as “special weapons” in Department of Defense documents.

Evidence that SEAD is a Nuclear Storage Facility

It is the policy of the Department of Defense (DOD) neither to confirm nor deny the presence of nuclear weapons at a particular location. However, evidence shows that SEAD is a major nuclear weapons facility and is the on East Coast “transshipment point” receiving nuclear weapons from the Department of Energy (DOE), the manufacturer of the weapons, for eventual deployment in Europe.
Evidence includes:

Seneca Army Depot has a storage area essential for the housing on nuclear weapons. It consists of 60 to 70 reinforced earth-covered bunkers as well as a 28,000 square foot earth-covered, temperature controlled building essential for plutonium maintenance. (Plutonium is the explosive element common to most nuclear weapons.)

This nuclear storage area is guarded by 200 to 250 military police who are authorized to use deadly force in order to prevent intruders from approaching the bunkers. These police officers have received anti-terrorist training. The 1982 military construction hearing included a request to increase the number of military police at SEAD.

Included in a 1967 SEAD employees’ handbook is a list of four “occupational skills”: “nuclear weapons officer,” “nuclear weapons assembly technician,” “nuclear weapons maintenance technician,” and “nuclear weapons electronics specialist.”

A 1975 technical manual includes SEAD in a list of “military first destinations” for the receipt of nuclear weapons and ‘limited life components” (this refers to tritium, an element used to trigger nuclear warheads).

A July 1980 DOD/DOE planning document identifies SEAD as the East Coast transshipment point for nuclear munitions.

Economic Impact of SEAD and Jobs

The Seneca Army Depot’s 1982-1983 operating budget exceeds 30 million dollars. Over 80 percent goes to pay the wages of civilian and military personnel.

The depot provides nearly 1,400 jobs; 800 of the jobs are held by civilians while the remaining 600 jobs require a high level of skill or security clearance and are filled by persons who are brought to the depot form outside the Finger Lakes region. Many of the low skills jobs are filled by family members of military personnel stationed at the depot. The end result of this employment situation is that only a small percentage of all the jobs at the depot are open to local people.

The Tax Impact of SEAD

SEAD is a federal facility and therefore pays no sales or property-related taxes. The depot occupies about 4% of Seneca County’s land area. The depot’s land and buildings are reported to have an assessed value of $250 million and could be paying over $8,000,000 per year in property-related taxes in Seneca County. A private enterprise would also be paying millions of dollars in sales taxes on the material it would be buying for its operations. The depot has within its boundaries a department store, restaurant, two bars, a luncheonette, a grocery store, liquor store, bowling alley and gas station. These nine enterprises are included in the depot’s property tax assessment of over $250 million and are for the use of military personnel and their families. Sales made in these businesses are not subject to sales taxes.

Less than 1% of the military personnel at the depot own homes in the community and pay any property-related taxes. 67% of the military personnel and their families live on the depot in military housing. These person do not contribute rent or sales tax revenues from utility bills to the local economy.

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