Discussions on Non-Stockpile Weapons Continue
(The following is excerpted from the July 1998 issue of "Common Sense," the newsletter of the Chemical Weapons Working Group, published by the Kentucky Environmental Foundation.)
For the third time, citizens living near non-stockpile chemical weapons sites have met with officials with the Army's Non-Stockpile Chemical Materiel Program (NSCMP). The purpose of the May 1998 meeting was to continue discussion of issues around recovery, storage and disposal of non-stockpile chemical weapons. Non-stockpile weapons are miscellaneous items such as bombs, ton containers of chemical agent, and chemical agent identification sets, which are not part of the chemical weapons stockpile.
Participants in the May meeting were from all across the country -- from Alaska to Maryland, from Utah to Arkansas and Tennessee -- representing a diversity of issues. Some of the main discussion topics at the meeting were: transportation and storage of non-stockpile materiel; effective public involvement and outreach strategies; and primary and secondary disposal methods for non-stockpile weapons and by-products. The group also agreed on a draft charter, which, if passed, would formally name the group as the Non-Stockpile Forum. The next meeting is scheduled for November 1998, pending approval of the group charter.
If you would like more information on the non-stockpile issue, or want to know how to get involved in a growing grassroots non-stockpile network, please contact Elizabeth at (606) 986-0868.
"Public involvement" is the term we continue to hear, across the nation, at the military conferences on the destruction of chemical weapons. A May 1998 meeting between (NSCMP) officials and citizens living near non- stockpile sites was a continuation of that mantra, and one of the more promising meetings on the chemical weapons issue I have attended.
Citizen participation in the decision-making process is the most important part of "public involvement." Fortunately, the NSCMP seems to believe this is true. The NSCMP may be able to utilize "lessons learned from mistakes made in the past" by the chemical weapons stockpile incineration program. The problems and controversies over incineration have often been dealt with by the Army's old style of behavior: decide, announce and defend.
Of course, it remains to be seen how sincerely the NSCMP promotes "new" behavior. Public involvement in any democratic process has always been important and the ideal. Long after the chemical weapons have been destroyed in our nation and throughout the world, there will be other problems to confront. Has the Army found that the road toward solutions is public involvement? Hopefully the answer is yes.
-- Rosemary Holt, Women Concerned/Utahns United
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