2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 10 Nov 2003 14:55:43 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Congress on Chemical Agent Monitoring / PR
Chemical Weapons Working Group
PO Box 467  Berea, KY  40403
(859) 986-7565    fax:  (859) 986-2695

for more information contact:
Craig Williams,
(859) 986-7565

for immediate release:  Friday, November 7, 2003


Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) announced his Sense of the Congress provision
has been included in the Conference Report to the Fiscal Year 2004
Defense Authorization Bill, which was filed in
Congress and approved by the House of Representatives today.  The Senate
is expected to vote on the Bill early next week.  The provision states
that the Secretary of the Army should "deploy improved chemical agent
monitors" at all U.S. chemical weapons disposal facilities, "in order
to ensure the maximum protection of the public, personnel involved in
the chemical demilitarization program,  and the environment."

The improved agent monitors would increase protection for almost one
million U.S. citizens who live near stockpiles of obsolete chemical
weapons the Army is in the process of destroying at military depots in
eight states:  Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland,
Oregon and Utah.

Those residents most impacted by the Army's currently inadequate
monitors are those living in the four states where the weapons are being
destroyed by incinerators: Alabama, Arkansas, Oregon
and Utah. The Army planned to operate these burn plants for up to 9 more
years using its outdated monitoring system which is unable to quickly
and reliably identify and quantify chemical agent which might escape the
facilities,  The incinerators operated in Utah and the Pacific have
had numerous agent releases over the past decade.  Weapons at the
remaining four sites will be destroyed using neutralization, a safer
contained process without smokestacks, eliminating a major direct
pathway for agent releases.  The provision, however, covers all storage
and disposal sites.

Whatever the destruction process employed, the Congressional provision
is good news for residents and workers at all eight storage sites.
Community advocates for safe chemical weapons disposal hailed the effort
as an important step toward protecting communities from exposure to
lethal chemical agents.  Most jubilant, perhaps, are residents in the
highly-populated city of Anniston, Alabama, where the Army fired up its
chemical weapons incinerator last August.

Brenda Lindell, a mother and anti-burn activist in Anniston, said, "I
welcome any and all efforts from our government to help identify more
quickly and accurately what is coming out of that
smokestack."  Lindell added,  "With the current monitoring system, it
can take 20 minutes or longer to verify a chemical agent release.  For a
city like ours, with so many people living so close to the Depot, every
minute counts."

Craig Williams, Director of the Chemical Weapons Working Group (CWWG),
said, "For years, the National Research Council (NRC), nearby residents
and local governmental agencies have called for improved, faster
monitoring as a safety measure for stockpile communities, yet the Army
ignored such requests.  Today Congress added its strong voice to that
call in order to better keep workers and citizens safe from these lethal

The Sense of the Congress monitoring provision, initiated last June by
Senator Bunning,  was supported by other legislators from seven of the
eight chemical weapons stockpile states -- Utah being the only state not
participating.  Sen. Bunning commented on the success of this effort,
"I am pleased that I have been able to work with my Republican and
Democrat colleagues from the House and Senate to include this important
language in the final version of the Defense Authorization Act.  This is
common sense stuff, and I am eager to move forward to help better
protect citizens, personnel in the chemical demilitarization program,
and our environment."

According to NRC reports, the,  "The relatively slow response of the
ACAMS (Area Continuous Agent Monitoring System) means that, in the event
of a sudden release of agent, plant workers and the local population
might be exposed to a concentration of agent above acceptable levels."
and " The sampling of the DAAMS (Depot Area Agent Monitoring System)
range from one hour when detecting in the exhaust stacks, to eight hours
when monitoring plant work areas, and
twelve hours at the site perimeter."

Karyn Jones of the Hermiston, Oregon group GASP, said she appreciated
that both Oregon Senators Wyden and Smith and Representative Walden,
supported improved monitoring systems.  "This is one of the most basic
levels of protection for workers and the public," she said.
"We welcome any and all efforts from our government to help identify
more quickly and accurately what is coming out of that smokestack."

Concerning available improves monitors, the NRC has reported, "Recent
advances in monitoring technology could reduce false alarm rates and
decrease response times." and that such monitors,  "could have a
response time on the order of 10 seconds or less." Senator Richard
Shelby of Alabama said, "It is important for the Army and the safety of
the community that the most advanced, real-time monitoring technology be
used in the chemical demilitarization program.  I was happy to support
the Bunning amendment.  The current technology is outdated and the Army
should undertake a study as quickly as possible to implement new


copies of the provision are available from the CWWG upon request

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