for more information:
Elizabeth Crowe (859) 986-0868
for immediate release: Friday, September 15, 2000
A U.S. Army report, scheduled for release today, recommends that each of the eight continental U.S. chemical weapons stockpile disposal facilities continue to be considered for disposal of "non-stockpile" chemical materiel. The Non-Stockpile Chemical Weapons Citizens Coalition (Coalition), a grassroots network of citizens affected by the disposal of this materiel, criticized the idea, and instead urges the Army and legislators to support non-incineration, transportable technologies for non-stockpile weapons disposal.
Elizabeth Crowe, coordinator for the grassroots Coalition, said "The Army for decades has promised that chemical weapons incinerators would be used to destroy stockpiled chemical weapons only. If the Army recommends these facilities for destruction of additional waste streams, they will have breached the trust of citizens and elected officials at stockpile sites across the country."
Non-stockpile chemical materiel is a category of abandoned chemical warfare items, which are not part of the weapons stored at the eight U.S. stockpile sites, including chemical agent testing kits, agent-filled ton containers, and explosive and non-explosive munitions. They are known or suspected to exist in 38 U.S. states and the Virgin Islands.
This past Spring, the House Armed Services Committee requested the Army's Program Manager for Chemical Demilitarization (PMCD) to evaluate the feasibility of using chemical weapons stockpile incinerators for disposal of non-stockpile items being held at the stockpile sites. The first installment of the Army's two-part report, under contract with Mitretek Corp., has now been completed.
The report identifies, site by site, the potential for incineration of non-stockpile materiel based on the type of materiel there, and public and political perception of such a recommendation. The Anniston, Alabama and Pine Bluff, Arkansas sites are ranked "low" for public acceptability of such a plan, the Umatilla, Oregon and Newport, Indiana sites are ranked "high," and remaining sites are ranked in the "medium" range.
Crowe says that, while the Army's current intent is not to ship non-stockpile materiel to the facilities from out-of-state, citizens legitimately fear that once the door is open to incinerate even limited amounts of non-stockpile weapons, that door may never close. "The Army fully expects to recover and destroy non-stockpile materiel for decades after the anticipated completion of stockpiled weapons disposal. Many local residents and public officials are not willing to extend the life of those facilities, especially when transportable technology alternatives exist."
The Coalition promotes use of non-incineration transportable technologies for non-stockpile weapons disposal. The Army is currently testing several such systems. If proven successful, Crowe noted, these technologies could be deployed to regional or local non-stockpile sites, thus limiting the transportation of non-stockpile materiel across state lines, and ensuring that no community is burdened with a permanent disposal facility.
"Transportable technologies offer disposal solutions which are environmentally just, more publicly acceptable, and which could save taxpayers' money in the long run," Crowe said. "This approach makes more sense all around."
Excerpts from the Army's report are
available upon request.
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