HERMISTON, Ore. -- A community economist predicts a big hit to the economy in Eastern Oregon when contractors finish incinerating chemical weapons and layoffs begin in January.
Bruce Sorte of Oregon State University told a community forum this week he estimates the loss at $40 million to $50 million a year. He says the population of the Hermiston area could be flat for five years.
The East Oregonian quoted him as basing his estimates on the loss of 650 jobs and the effects rippling from that.
The Umatilla Chemical Depot south of the Columbia River is destroying chemical weapons -- mustard gas most recently. It's part of a national effort to fulfill treaty obligations.
The work is expected to end in November.