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Johnston Atoll Chemical Agent Disposal System (JACADS)

Note: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.

Johnston Atoll Chemical Agent Disposal System Quick Finder

Timeline of Events

1796: Johnston Atoll is discovered by American Capt. Joseph Pierpoint when his ship, the Sally, runs aground on it.

1807: The atoll is named for the captain of the HMS Cornwallis, J. Johnston.

1856: Johnston Atoll is one of 30 central Pacific islands claimed by the United States under the Guano Act of 1856. It granted Americans the privilege of removing guano (the accumulation of seabird droppings) for use as a rich fertilizer.

1923: The Biological Survey of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Bishop Museum visit Johnston Atoll on a scientific expedition. Their findings result in President Calvin Coolidge's Executive Order 4467, which designated the islands a National Wildlife Refuge.

1934: By Executive Order 6935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt placed the atoll under the U.S. Navy, while retaining the earlier provisions for the refuge.

1936: The Navy began the first of many changes to the atoll. By 1964, dredging and filling shallow areas had increased Johnston Island from its original 46 acres to 625 acres, increased Sand Island from 10 to 22 acres, and added two artificial islands, North (Akau) and East (Hikina) measuring 25 and 18 acres, respectively.

arial view of island

Late 1950s-1963: Johnston Atoll is used as a base for atmospheric nuclear testing.

1969: An accidental leak of the deadly nerve agent VX on Okinawa injures 23 U.S. servicemen and one civilian. The governments of Japan and Ryukyu ask the U.S. to remove all chemical weapons from Okinawa.

1971: The first chemical weapons arrive on Johnston Island from Okinawa.

Mid-1970s: Surplus Agent Orange defoliant from Vietnam War was stored on Johnston Island.

Photo of weapons incinerator

1985: U.S. Army begins construction of Johnston Atoll Chemical Agent Disposal System (JACADS).

1990: JACADS processes its first munitions. U.S. chemical weapons from Germany are shipped to JACADS.

2000: The last chemical weapons on Johnston Atoll are destroyed.

2002: EPA Approves Army's Revised Closure Plan for JACADS

2003: U.S. Army completes cleanup and demolition of incinerator buildings, completes final sampling

Images courtesy of the U.S. Army, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers


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