Umatilla Chemical Depot – Hermiston, Oregon - Atlas Obscura
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Umatilla Chemical Depot

Hermiston, Oregon

A stunning landscape of bunkers that once stored chemical weapons. 

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Heading west to Portland, Oregon via automobile, you stand a good chance of passing by some very unusual and imposing terrain.

As you’re cruising on I-82 towards the junction with I-84 you’ll notice that you’re passing many large earth covered bunkers to the north. The dirt camouflages the bunkers, so you wonder how many have passed before you noticed them. They keep ticking by as you clock about five miles east-west.  If you choose to go north on i-84, the interchange is elevated, and you can see the bunkers stretching far to the north, also about five miles.

The view is not something that you can capture in a photograph. You have to experience it for yourself.

The Umatilla Chemical Depot bunkers were used as storage for WWII and Cold War era conventional ammunition of all types, as well chemical weapons such as containing GB and VX nerve agents and HD blister agent . Though the site is incredibly vast, it contained only some 12% of the US stockpile of such weapons.

By 2011 the entire stockpile was completely incinerated, and as of 2018 the entire depot itself was shutting down.

Due to its isolation and freedom from development the site has become home to rare species of birds like the burrowing owl as well as rare plant life and herds of antelope. The state of Oregon plans to use part of the base for a training facility, while the rest may becomes industrial land and a wildlife refuge.

Know Before You Go

The site is best viewed while traveling west on I-84, with the site on your right, or traveling south on I-84, with the site on the right.

The site also can be viewed on its west and northern boundaries via multiple dirt roads and tracks, but be advised that this land is privately owned farmland and may be marked regarding trespassing.