(The following is excerpted from the April 1998 issue of "Common Sense", the newsletter of the Chemical Weapons Working Group, published by the Kentucky Environmental Foundation.)
Last November, an Anniston, Alabama newspaper printed excerpts from a letter from Timothy Garrett, environmental coordinator at the Anniston Army Depot (AAD) to the state environmental regulators suggesting that AAD treat, store and dispose of non-stockpile weapons in addition to its chemical weapons stockpile. Garrett said he was asked by 'higher command' to inquire about the non-stockpile weapons.
Federal law allows non-stockpile weapons to be transported to permitted storage facilities. Currently, the only two such sites are at the Pine Bluff Arsenal in Arkansas, and the Deseret Army Depot in Tooele, Utah. The law does not allow use of chemical weapons stockpile disposal facilities to dispose of non-stockpile weapons. That law is of little assurance to Anniston residents, who fear that having more weapons brought in will guarantee them a chemical weapons incinerator. After all, laws -- and permits -- can be changed.
Recovered non-stockpile weapons need to be safely stored until they can be destroyed. Understandably, Tooele and Pine Bluff are not interested in being the only two sites to receive the weapons. But under Anniston's current circumstances, it is understandable why local citizens don't want the weapons, either.
At the same time the NSCMP seems to want citizen involvement in the program, keeping such important decisions from the public undermines any positive advances. If the NSCMP chooses to operate in a more open, honest manner, they may be able to ultimately destroy the non-stockpile weapons without destroying their credibility.
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