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Blue Grass Chemical Depot Begins Furloughs of Firefighters

Firefighters assigned to the Blue Grass Army site in Kentucky were slated on Monday to start government-mandated furloughs, even though their work absence could pose a dangerous threat to public health should there arise an incident with the depot's arsenal of degrading chemical warfare materials and their disposal, the Richmond Register reported .

Anonymous sources told the newspaper that the depot's fire department was already short-staffed before the furloughs were ordered. The mandated, unpaid time off comes as a result of the across-the-board federal government budget cuts demanded by the 2011 Budget Control Act.

The Kentucky installation houses 523 tons of poisonous nerve and blister agents as well as assorted munitions for delivering them in an attack.

The Army has been in talks with the Pentagon on allowing Blue Grass firefighters to be excluded from the sequester-imposed furloughs, according to Blue Grass spokesman Mark Henry.

A mere five fire-suppression personnel were anticipated to come to work on Monday, depot insiders said. "We will not be able to make entry in a fire with five people," a source said.

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