CWWG

Citizens Demand Immediate Explanation of Four-Hour Delay in Public Notice of Nerve Gas Release; Army Violated Its Own SOPs and State of Utah Permit


pr_05.18.00delay.html

Links to More Items That Are Still Sizzling at CWWG


Chemical Weapons Working Group
P.O. Box 467
Berea, KY 40403
(859) 986-7565 (2695 -fax)
kefwilli@acs.eku.edu www.cwwg.org

for more information contact:
Jason Groenewald: (801) 364-5110
Craig Williams: (859) 986-7565
Bob Schaeffer : (941) 395-6773

for immediate release: Thursday May 18, 2000

CITIZENS DEMAND IMMEDIATE EXPLANATION OF
FOUR HOUR DELAY IN PUBLIC NOTICE OF CHEM. WEAPONS
INCINERATOR NERVE GAS RELEASE; ARMY VIOLATED
ITS OWN STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES AND
STATE OF UTAH OPERATIONAL PERMIT

Utah residents are outraged that Army officials waited more than four
hours after the nerve agent GB (Sarin) leaked into the atmosphere from
the controversial Tooele, Utah chemical weapons incinerator before
alerting the public. Immediate notice is required by the facility's
operating permit granted by the state of Utah, agreements with local
emergency responders, and the Army's own standard operating
procedures.

"The delay in notifying Tooele County emergency officials is
unconscionable no matter how the Army frames it," said Jason
Groenewold, Director of Families Against Incinerator Risk (FAIR), a local
watchdog group. "It is one more example of the Army's crass lack of
concern for public health and welfare in its rush to incinerate chemical
weapons."

"Citizens groups want to know why the Army stalled for four hours before
notifying the public, and they want to know now," added Craig Williams,
national spokesperson for the Chemical Weapons Working Group
(CWWG). "The longer it takes to get an answer the less truth it will
contain."

"The Army and its contractor EG&G Defense Materials, Inc. were on the
scene, they know exactly what happened, and they aren't talking,"
Williams explained. "Our questions are straight-forward: who made the
decision not to follow the regulations and why? The public has a right
to know now, not in two or three weeks after the Army's public relations
teams develop an elaborate cover story. "

Col. Christopher Lesniak, national manager of the chemical weapons Stockpile
Disposal Program, was visiting the Tooele site during the leak. "Sources tell
us that Col. Lesniak overrode local depot commander Col. Pate, who wanted to
follow procedure by immediately notifying the public," Williams revealed.
"If this information is correct, Col. Lesniak has some explaining to do.
If it's not, then he should explain for the record what did happen."

The groups monitoring the Tooele incinerator are calling on Congress to
launch an independent investigation. "We aren't sure that the whole
truth about the nerve agent leak will ever come out, since the Army is in
charge of investigating itself," said FAIR's Groenewold. "However, there is
no doubt that the Army and EG&G ignored their legal obligation to
immediately notify local officials. They must be held accountable for this
violation."

- - 3 0 - -



CWWG

CWWG Home Page

Contact us:
Chemical Weapons Working Group
Kentucky Environmental Foundation
P.O. Box 467
Berea, KY 40403
phone: 859-986-7565
fax: 859-986-2695


For comments about this WWW page contact Lois Kleffman.