2000 CPEO Military List Archive

From: kefcrowe@acs.eku.edu
Date: Wed, 17 May 2000 11:53:00 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Chemical agent release at the Army's Utah incinerator

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 call: Craig Williams (859) 986-7565; Jason Groenewold
(801) 364 -5110

for immediate release: Thursday May 11, 2000
Army self-investigation unacceptable when they knew of problems which led
to release

Army officials admitted Wednesday that the deadly GB (Sarin) nerve agent
was emitted into the environment out the smokestack of the Army's chemical
weapons incinerator in Utah. It was the first time the Army has admitted to
such a release at the Utah facility. Grassroots groups who oppose the use
of incineration to dispose of the more than 25,000 tons of nerve agent
stored in the U.S. claim that many such releases have occured in the past,
but have always been covered up by the Army.

Craig Williams, spokesperson for the Chemical Weapons Working Group (CWWG)
said, "We have evidence of several nerve agent releases from the Army's
Utah incinerator. For some reason the Army couldn't cover this one up."
Chemical weapons incinerators emit hundreds of toxic chemicals including
low levels of nerve agent out of their smokestacks even under normal
operating conditions. During upsets or unexpected events such as Monday's,
larger quantities and more concentrated agents can be released. The
smokestack creates a direct route to the atmosphere and is a fundamental
flaw in the incineration process. The CWWG has been calling for the Army to
switch to advanced non-incineration technologies, such as neutralization,
that significantly reduce the amount of toxic by-products and eliminate the
direct route problems in a way that combustion technologies can't. "The
health threat posed by agent releases and other incineration emissions is
unnecessary and unacceptable," said Williams.

Last February former whistleblower, now reinstated, Chief Safety Officer
Steve Jones stated before the Utah governor-appointed Citizens Advisory
Commission that, "incineration is an exact science and it is virtually
impossible for agent to ever go out the stack." Activists recently revealed
internal documents and handwritten memos sent to them by Jones which paint
a different picture and predict the very type of agent release that took
place on Monday.

Chip Ward, board member of the local grassroots group, Families Against
Incinerator Risk (FAIR), said, "The documents sent to us by Jones show the
Army knew of the problems that led to Monday night's leak and did nothing
about it in order to stay on schedule and keep costs down. The Army tells
communities that public and worker safety is the number one priority, but
it's just not true. Credibility and safety go together. The Army is not
credible and the incinerator is not safe"

The CWWG is calling on Utah's Governor Leavitt and members of Congress to
launch investigations into this incident and the chronic problems that led
to it before allowing the Army to restart operations. According to
Williams, "There have been continuous system failures, worker exposures and
agent releases at the Army's chemical weapons incinerators in the Pacific
and in Utah. Each time the Army investigates itself, it is pronounced that
'all is well' and the Army goes right back to business as usual. This
self-policing is inadequate and dangerous."

"The Army knew, or should have known, this event was inevitable," said FAIR
Director Jason Groenewold. "This nerve agent release isn't the first, but
Governor Leavitt and our Federal officials should ensure that it is the

Elizabeth Crowe
Chemical Weapons Working Group
Non-Stockpile Chemical Weapons Citizens Coalition
(859) 986-0868


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