2002 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 20 Nov 2002 15:09:32 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Suit may delay arms incineration in Alabama
Suit may delay arms incineration in Alabama
By Charles Seabrook / Cox News Service

ATLANTA - A dozen environmental, civil rights and veteran groups filed a
federal lawsuit Tuesday in the latest effort to block the incineration
of nerve gas and other chemical weapons stored near Anniston, Ala.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Birmingham, could once
again delay the opening of the $1 billion incinerator designed to
destroy 2,254 tons of nerve gas, mustard gas and other deadly chemical

Army officials had announced last month that incineration would begin by
the end of March 2003.

The chemicals are contained in corroded mortar shells, rockets and
barrels stored in concrete bunkers at the Anniston Army Depot, 35 miles
west of the Georgia border. One of the plaintiffs is the Coosa River
Basin Initiative based in Rome, Ga.

Army officials say several small leaks from the munitions have occurred
over the years, and the weapons should be destroyed as soon as possible
to avoid a potential catastrophic release of gases.

The groups who filed the lawsuit Tuesday, however, contend the aging
munitions should be destroyed by chemical neutralization rather than
incineration. Many of the munitions are at least 40 years old.

Destroying the agents by chemical means would be cheaper, faster and
safer than burning them, said Craig Williams of the Chemical Weapons
Working Group Inc., one of the plaintiffs.

He noted that a chemical weapons incinerator in Tooele, Utah, is still
shut from a July 2002 incident in which workers were exposed to a nerve
agent. That facility, he said, is in a sparsely populated area, while
more than 35,000 people live within nine miles of the Anniston

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