for more information contact:
Beth Fraser : 706-546-9008
Heather Seckman: 706 232-2724
for immediate release: Tuesday November 28, 2000
Today, Montgomery Circuit Judge McCooey found that the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) did not follow the procedure required by Alabama Code § 41-22-5 for determining what level of cancer risk is sufficiently protective of human health to allow issuance of a hazardous waste permit to the Army for constructing and operating it's chemical weapons incinerator in Anniston.
The case, brought by the Georgia-headquartered Coosa River Basin Initiative (CRBI), whose organization includes members in Alabama, claimed that ADEM's determination that the emissions from the Army's chemical weapons incinerator would not exceed a specified cancer risk standard was arbitrary because ADEM did not go through the "Rule-Making" process as required by the Alabama Code to establish the cancer risk standard.
Under the Code, ADEM is required to first publish notice of the terms or substance of such a standard and afford all interested parties an opportunity to submit data, views, or arguments on such standard. ADEM did neither.
CRBI coordinator, Heather L. Seckman said, "ADEM basically decreed what cancer risk standard should be applied to the permitting of the chemical weapons incinerator and every other hazardous waste combustion facility in the State without following the legal procedures required to adopt such standard. We asked the Court to declare the permit void based on this violation and anticipate that soon it will do just that."
Judge McCooey has yet to issue her final ruling on the matter, while she awaits final submissions from all parties.
At the same time Judge McCooey has requested that ADEM, the Army, and Westinhouse seek an immediate review of her ruling, once made, by the Alabama Supreme Court, by-passing the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals. If the high court concurs with her ruling she will then consider what relief should be granted.
If Judge McCooey's final ruling favors CRBI, under Alabama Supreme Court precedent, the Army's permit for the chemical weapons incinerator could be declared void.
CRBI Board Member, Beth Fraser said, "I'm pleased with today's developments which appear to confirm our contention that ADEM violated Alabama law in decreeing what level of cancer risk is acceptable to the citizens of Alabama (and Georgia) without input from the very people who are at risk. The law requires that such determinations go through a public process. ADEM ignored the law and the Judge recognized that."
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