|From:||Lenny Siegel <email@example.com>|
|Date:||18 Jun 2007 22:55:48 -0000|
|Subject:||[CPEO-MEF] Army to suspend VX Hydrolysate shipments|
CHEMICAL WEAPONS WORKING GROUP www.cwwg.org firstname.lastname@example.org for immediate release: Monday, June 18, 2007ARMY AGREES TO TEMPORARILY STOP SHIPMENT OF NERVE AGENT WASTE TO PORT ARTHUR,TEXAS
Army's Voluntary Stand Down on VX Hydrolysate Transportation in Effect until Preliminary Injunction Hearing Date Agreed To and Hearing Is Completed
The U.S. Army agreed to temporarily suspend shipments of extremely toxic VX warfare agent by-products to Texas from Indiana while the federal court in Terre Haute, Indiana sets a date for an Preliminary Injunction Hearing on the matter. Papers were filed today requesting such a hearing, the date of which is being worked out.
Texas and Indiana citizens groups, joined by two national organizations - the Sierra Club and the Chemical Weapons Working Group - were poised to file a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) motion late last week but opted to request a voluntary "stand-down" from the Army first. The Army accepted under the conditions that: 1) a conference with the court take place no later than tomorrow (19 June); and, as a result, 2) the parties and the court are able to agree on an expedited hearing and briefing schedule regarding the Preliminary Injunction.
The Army began trucking this uniquely hazardous material out of the Newport Indiana Depot to be burned in the low-income minority community of Port Arthur, Texas, in the dead of night on April 16 without making the shipments generally known to citizens in the affected states.
Subsequently, on May 8 citizens filed suit against the shipments after requests to stop the transportation were ignored by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Indiana State Police, federal and state elected officials in both Indiana and Texas.
The suit emphasized that the risks associated with transporting the VX waste were not fully recognized, primarily due to inadequate analysis of the concentrations of VX nerve agent and other deadly compounds, including Experimental Agent (EA) 2192 in the tankers hauling the material through portions of Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.
Of an estimated two million gallons of the waste, known as VX hydrolysate (VXH), approximately 375,000 gallons have already been shipped. How much of that has been burned in Port Arthur to date is unknown.
"This is a critical situation here in Port Arthur," said Hilton Kelly, Director of the local Community In-Power Development Association. "Not only was the community not notified before this operation began, but the risks associated with this material continue to be held secret by the Army and Veolia Environmental Services, the company accepting and burning this waste."
According to Dr. Michael Sommer II, Mr. Kelly's dismay at the secrecy is well-founded. Dr. Sommer, a Houston-based expert in forensic environmental chemistry said in his declaration submitted with today's court filing, "The proposed analytical test methods the Army developed to assure complete neutralization of the VX are wholly inadequate to ensure protection of public health and the environmentŠ."
Additionally, serious questions regarding the concentrations of VX and EA 2192 in the VXH and the dangers posed during transportation of the waste have been raised by the citizens in Indiana, where the Army has ignored local government resolutions opposing putting this material on the road.
According to Dr. Fred Millar, a Virginia-based expert on homeland security, hazardous materials transportation and chemical accident prevention, the Army's transportation risk estimates "do not consider any potential release of VX or EA2192 as a result of possible crash, fire, or of a possible terrorist attack, including hijacking, during or prior to transport." Dr. Millar goes on to say, "The release and dispersion from a truck containing material including a residual quantity of VX, as with any of a number of other ultra-hazardous materials in transportation, Š could potentially cause many deaths and injuriesŠ."
Sara Morgan of Montezuma, Indiana and a local leader of Citizens Against Incineration at Newport has been questioning the Army's decision to ship this by-product across country for years. "We had an agreed to and permitted method of treating this waste right here," she said. "Folks along the transportation corridor have no idea of the risks associated with this material."
The Army has never burned agent by-products such as VXH, which contains inadequately measured quantities of VX and EA2192. And, unconscionably, the Veolia plant in Port Arthur has no monitors capable of determining if these materials have been completely combusted or are instead being emitted from their smokestacks into the Port Arthur community.
According to Dr. Neil Carman, a former environmental regulatory official for the Texas Air Control Board (now the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality), "The danger from incineration of VX hydrolysate liquid waste is especially egregious because the Port Arthur incinerator facility is not required to use or be equipped with a stack VX continuous emissions monitoring systemŠ."
Dr. Carman also points out that no trial burns are even being done at the Veolia incinerator to determine the effectiveness of burning this material; the VXH will be mixed with other waste without identifying the combination of chemicals emitted. It is also a clear case of environmental injustice. "Environmental justice in Port Arthur-Golden Triangle Gulf Coast region is a serious concern due to the minority demographics, significant numbers of low income families close to or in povertyŠ", said Carman in his declaration submitted to the court today.
Both Dr. Carman and Dr. Sommer challenge the Army's position that VX cannot reform in the mixture while waiting to be shipped from Indiana or while in holding tanks in Texas. Carman's declaration states, "The National Research Council report confirms that if the pH is allowed to drop VX will reform."
Dr. Sommer also points out that separation during storage is a problem being ignored by the Army. "In practice, the neutralized hydrolysate from the caustic hydrolysis of VX has an aqueous phase, an organic phase and a solid phase with differing VX and VX degradation products distributed within each phase. The Army in its Environmental Assessment did not report details of the concentrations of VX, EA2192 or other toxic contaminants present in each phase."
Chemical Weapons Working Group Director, Craig Williams noted that during the Army's attempts to ship this same material to Ohio and then New Jersey, citizens repeatedly requested to have the process opened up for an independent review of the sampling and analysis process, but such requests were ignored or refused. This has left little recourse for citizens other than litigation in an effort to protect the communities affected by the shipment and incineration of the VXH.
"In addition," said Williams, "these shipments violate federal law barring interstate transportation of chemical weapons as defined in the Chemical Weapons Treaty which this material clearly falls into."
-30-copies of the filing and the expert declarations are available from the CWWG office
-- Lenny Siegel Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight c/o PSC, 278-A Hope St., Mountain View, CA 94041 Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545 Fax: 650/961-8918 <email@example.com> http://www.cpeo.org _______________________________________________ Military mailing list Military@list.cpeo.org http://www.cpeo.org/mailman/listinfo/military
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