CHEMICAL WEAPONS WORKING GROUP
P.O. Box 467, Berea, Kentucky 40403
Phone: (606) 986-7565 Fax: (606) 986-2695
e-mail: kefwilli @ acs.eku.edu
for further information:
Craig Williams: (606) 986-7565
Bob Schaeffer : (941) 395-6773
Jason Groenewald: (801) 364-5110
Chip Ward: (435) 884-6291
for immediate release, Wednesday, March 22, 2000
SAFETY HEAD'S MEMOS, "SECRET" DOCUMENTS SHOW ARMY'S TOOELE
CHEMICAL WEAPONS INCINERATOR CONTINUES TO ENDANGER
WORKERS, PUBLIC AND THE ENVIRONMENT
The Army's controversial Tooele, Utah, chemical weapons incinerator presents
a current threat to facility workers and downwind communities, according to a
senior manager's handwritten notes and previously-secret reports from inside
that facility which were made public today.
Among the documents is an internal memo by the Army's Tooele contractor,
EG&G Defense Materials, which directly contradicts a previously published
report claiming that agent had not escaped from the facility. The EG&G memo
states, "This [prior] report concludes that
agent did not migrate outside the Munitions Disposal Building (MDB), when
the data indicate that it did."
The EG&G memo also suggests that hundreds of incidents involving agent
alarms, which were classified as non-agent events, be reviewed due to
"misinterpretation by investigators." Other official documents demonstrate
that workers at the Utah incineration facility were exposed
to chemical warfare agents on a number of occasions.
The documents and notes were compiled from August, 1999 to mid-January
2000 by Steven Jones, a former whistleblower who returned to Tooele as the
plant's Safety Manager last summer after a federal court ruled he had been
illegally fired. They were released by the Chemical
Weapons Working Group (CWWG), a national alliance of organizations which
advocate alternatives to incineration.
Jones' handwritten notes include such statements as:
- "Not only did agent leave the Munitions Disposal Building; personnel were
- "Yesterday the [chemical agent rocket feed] chutes jammed again. The
procedure amazingly enough is to drop I-beams down the chute to dislodge the
rocket parts. Keep in mind both gates are open and the furnace is hot. They
aren't particularly concerned about an explosion, but should be."
- "In total it looks like incineration is a failed technology."
According to Jones, Tooele managers conspired to obstruct justice by
encouraging employees to mislead the judge at a federal court trial challenging
the plant's operating permit and by collaborating with sympathetic state
- "The Army's "Program Manager for Chemical Demilitarization (PMCD)
threatened to fire anyone who didn't testify 'correctly' during the trial. So they
lied or just played stupid . . . everyone here wants alternatives [to incineration]
and are fed up with PMCD. These incinerators just simply won't work."
- "The real problem here is the state completely works with PMCD to find
ways to circumvent the laws and permit. "
- "We have released agent."
CWWG spokesperson Craig Williams said, "These documents are a telling
indictment of the Tooele plant and the entire chemical weapons incineration
program. They detail the methods used by the Army to cover its tracks on
worker exposure, agent releases and intentional violations of legal regulations
and permit requirements. "
Williams concluded, "We will be turning this material over to the U.S.
Attorney's office and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Criminal
Investigations Division and expect a full investigation."
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Documents and excerpts from Jones' notes are available from the CWWG upon
CWWG Home Page