2000 CPEO Military List Archive

From: kefcrowe@acs.eku.edu
Date: Mon, 11 Sep 2000 08:47:02 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Army dumps old munitions in Utah

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 7, 2000

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

While Trina Allen was driving into Salt Lake City over Labor Day Weekend,
she noticed something unusual--a massive pile of munitions once filled with
nerve agent hidden behind a row of train cars just off of Interstate 80 and
7200 West.

Allen, a former hazardous waste manager at the Army's Tooele chemical
weapons incinerator, dropped off her kids, went home, grabbed her camera,
and then drove back to document what she had seen.

"I was appalled and disgusted," said Allen who became a whistleblower in
1996-97, when she documented, among other things, the illegal burning of
chemical warfare agent at the incinerator. "Thousands of munitions were
dumped just 100 yards from the interstate with nothing to prevent their
contents from blowing into the surrounding communities or the Great Salt

Allen took soil samples from the area as well as samples from inside the
munitions. According to the Utah Division of Solid and Hazardous Waste
(DSHW), the state agency that regulates the incinerator, if there is any
residue left inside of the munitions, it must be treated as hazardous
waste. When Allen tipped over some of the projectiles, debris fell out.

"What a mess" said Jason Groenewold, Director of the Salt Lake City based
Families Against Incinerator Risk (FAIR) who was also on-site collecting
samples. "If, as it appears, this material is hazardous waste, the Army has
a lot of explaining to do. It would really call into question their
repeated assurances that public safety is their number one priority."

Activists have been concerned about the contamination of metal leaving the
incinerator since Gary Harris, the former Chief Permit Coordinator, blew
the whistle in January of this year. After Harris charged that metal
leaving the incinerator was still contaminated with nerve agent residues
and other toxins, the Du-Wald Steel Co. in Denver, CO said they would no
longer accept the waste as scrap metal until it was certified free of

Then on March 10, 2000, the Utah DSHW issued a letter to the Army that
said, "Based on findings documented during recent inspections, it appears
that ton containers, projectiles, and mortars designated by [the
incinerator] as scrap metal do not meet the criteria outlined in the
Permit. Please be advised that, effective immediately, all ton containers,
projectiles and mortars which remain contaminated with F999 (debris on or
in scrap metal) after treatment must be managed as hazardous waste until
further notice from the Division."

Provisions were later made to drop the hazardous waste code if the Army
vacuumed each munition inside and out so that there was no material left
inside the munition. Groenewold and Allen noted that debris fell out of the
munitions while they were collecting samples.

"The Army has cut so many corners with this program that it now looks like
a circle," said Allen. "It's only a matter of time before someone gets
seriously hurt."

FAIR has asked the US Environmental Protection Agency to investigate the
matter and take samples of the waste. They are also asking that immediate
steps be taken to isolate the area, and are warning people to stay away
from the site so as to avoid any possible exposure until it is determined
what materials are in the weapons.

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


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