for more information contact:
Craig Williams (859) 986-7565
for immediate release: Tuesday, November 13, 2007
KY DELEGATION DEMANDS IMMEDIATE ACTION ON SAFETY AND SECURITY AT CHEM WEAPONS STORAGE SITE
Letter to Army's Top Chemical Weapons Civilian and General Call Recent Report "Damning"
In a letter delivered today to Dale Ormond, Acting Director of the Chemical Materials Agency (CMA) and copied to General Griffin, Commander of the Army Material Command, KY Senators Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning and Congressman Ben Chandler call for "immediate and decisive action" on violations and other problems at the Blue Grass Chemical Activity identified in a report recently released by the Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection (KDEP).
Citing what the elected officials call "damning" results found in the report, they write, "[w]e believe that you must put into place proper procedures to rectify the situation, as well as take what actions are necessary against any supervisors responsible for these egregious violations."
KDEP's October 31 Site Inspection Report reviewed 40 safety and security disclosures by depot personnel and reached the disturbing conclusions that the Army has failed to properly train employees to prevent release of chemical warfare agents and that the decisions being made do not ensure protection of human health and the environment. But perhaps even more unsettling, according to the legislators, is that KDEP referred nine of the allegations to state and federal authorities for criminal investigation.
In their letter they say, "We are gravely concerned by the findings contained within this Report. As you well know, the weapons stored at the Depot are among the most lethal in the entire U.S. stockpile and they are located in the heart of the local community. This is a public safety issue of the highest order; for the local community and for the employees at the Depot."
Another issue of grave concern raised in the letter is that of the culture maintained at the Depot that stifles honest internal discussion of problems and punishes those employees who voice concerns about safety practices. They urge Mr. Ormond and General Griffin to "take precautions to ensure that whistleblowers and other internal dissenters (including security personnel) are not only protected from retribution, as required by law, but that their input is included in efforts to remedy the safety problems the Depot faces."
Craig Williams, Director of the Chemical Weapons Working Group, said of this strongly-worded letter, " Kentucky's federal officials have rightly recognized the KDEP report as validating claims made by depot whistleblowers who came forward in an effort to change unsafe practices. In the future, instead of being punished for such actions, these loyal workers should be rewarded."
The Congressional letter requests a full briefing by CMA officials within the upcoming weeks and notes that 'business as usual' will not suffice.