August 15, 1996August 15, 1996
A federal judge in Salt Lake City has allowed the Army to begin firing up the nation's first chemical weapons incinerator despite protests by environmentalists, according to Associated Press reports.
U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell denied the Chemical Weapons Working Group a preliminary injunction on the grounds that burning the obsolete nerve and blister agent at Tooele Army Depot would be less hazardous than storing it. She also cited an analysis which stated that 11 days of chemical weapon storage equaled the risk of running the incinerator for 6 years.
The group believes the incinerator is a public health risk and that new information should be reviewed before the Army begins burning chemical agents. Despite its latest legal loss, the organization vows to continue fighting against the incinerator. "We're not going away. We didn't score in this inning, but the game is far from over," said group director Craig Williams.
EG&G Defense Materials, an Army contractor, is ready to begin burning the weapons at the new incinerator site in Utah's west desert, approximately 50 miles southwest of Salt Lake City. It will take about seven years to destroy 44 percent of the United States' stockpile of outdated chemical weapons.
August 15, 1996