for more information contact:
Craig Williams at 859-986-7565
Jason Groenewold at 801-364-5110
for immediate release: September 21, 2000
In a hearing held today before a subcommittee
of the U.S. Congress in Washington, D.C. concerning the Army's
chemical weapons incineration program, Alabama Congressman Bob
Riley said, "It is absolutely wrong what they're [the Army]
doing to communities today." The hearing was part of an
investigation into a recent release of chemical warfare agent
at the Army's Utah incinerator. In pondering the possible start-up
of an Army incinerator in Anniston, Alabama, Riley remarked that
"There's got to be a better way."
Reflecting a different standard of community protection as he evaluated the release of chemical warfare agent, Utah Congressman Jim Hanson said, "So far no one has been killed." Notably, according to the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency's Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) data, Hanson's district has the worst toxic air pollution in the nation.
In spite of a carefully orchestrated and rehearsed presentation by incineration officials, the Army struggled to answer questions posed by members of the Congressional Committee. Witness after witness representing the Army's incineration program tried to reassure the Committee that mistakes of the past had been systematically addressed by a "Lessons Learned" program implemented at the two operating incinerators and those under construction. Yet, when confronted with a report by the Army's Utah facility contractor, which stated that "Lessons Learned" have not been implemented at the Utah facility, Army Program Manager James Bacon could only give a mumbled response. Congressman Riley then asked, "Have you even read the report?" Bacon carefully responded, "Briefly."
The Chemical Weapons Working Group (CWWG) Director, Craig Williams, who attended the hearing, said, "Today's hearing is typical of the Army's entire program wherein image outweighs reality and theatrics become the substitute for responsibility." CWWG representatives and members of other impacted citizens groups were prohibited from providing testimony to the Committee.
Jason Groenewold, Director of the Utah group Families Against Incinerator Risk (FAIR), said, "The Army's presentation was a farce! The Army is hiding behind a charade that this facility works when the truth is the Army is now burning nerve agent in a manner that is unproven and untested."
As the hearing drew to a close and several witnesses fumbled to answer Congressman Riley's questions, the Congressman looked frustrated, shaking his head and clearly not satisfied with the answers offered to the Committee.
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