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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Army disputes risk of DuPont VX plan
Earlier report posed possibility nerve gas agent could re-form in wastewater

By JEFF MONTGOMERY
Staff reporter
03/31/2004

An influential research study "grossly overestimated the risks" posed by nerve agent disposal wastes the DuPont Co. wants to discharge into the Delaware River, according to an Army consultants' report released Tuesday.

The consultants said they were unable to locate evidence that a Northwestern University scientist used to support a claim that one byproduct of the treatment process could cause cancer. The chemical would be in wastewater DuPont wants to pipe from its Deepwater, N.J., plant along the Delaware River to an underwater discharge point in the river, which is part of Delaware.

Area residents and environmental groups expressed concerns about the proposed project at hearings held recently by the Army and DuPont in New Jersey and Delaware.

"There continues to be massive amounts of misinformation going around," said Col. Jesse L. Barber, alternative technologies and approaches manager for the Army Chemical Materials Agency. "I refuse to allow the public to be railroaded into the fear camp of unknowns. I prefer to deal with knowns."

To meet terms of an international treaty, the United States must destroy more than 1,200 tons of VX, one of the world's deadliest chemical weapons. Defense Department officials want to send the DuPont plant up to 4 million gallons of wastewater from a proposed VX nerve agent neutralization project in Newport, Ind.

Treated liquid from the process, called hydrolysate, would be discharged into the river over two to four years. New Jersey's environmental agency, which currently oversees the DuPont wastewater operation, is reviewing the proposal, as is Delaware's Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. DNREC officials have said they are looking closely at potential toxic effects on the river and concerns that some compounds could increase the risk of algal blooms.

Bruce Rittmann, a civil, chemical and biological engineer at Northwestern, said in a report last year that the Army-backed project failed to adequately consider risks posed by VX residues and the possibility that the agent could re-form in waste liquids. Rittmann's views played a major role in a federal decision last fall to abandon a plan to send neutralized VX wastes to a publicly owned wastewater plant near Dayton, Ohio.

In the Army's report, Virginia-based Mitretek Systems Inc. rejected warnings that traces of the nerve agent could survive treatment or spontaneously re-form in wastewater.

"It would actually be easier to buy the base chemicals and do it from scratch," Barber said when asked about Rittmann's findings. "You would need a chemical processing plant to be able to pull the raw material out of the hydrolysate and create some amount of VX."

Mitretek also described Rittmann's reference to one report of toxic risks in a VX breakdown product as "suspicious" and "probably erroneous."

Rittmann said Mitretek could be correct about the missing reference to one compound, ethyl methylphosphonic acid. But he also said that he stood by his general findings.

"I came to the conclusion that there's enough there to warrant looking at it carefully," Rittmann said. He said he was pleased that the Army's follow-up study addressed the issues he raised.

Opponents of the disposal plan in Delaware and surrounding states have cited Rittmann's findings as reasons to scuttle the Deepwater project.

John Kearney, who represents the nonprofit Clean Air Council in Delaware, questioned the Army's decision to use Mitretek for what was described as an independent review of Rittmann's work and other reports. The same company has worked extensively for the government, and was hired in 1999 to assess disposal systems for assembled chemical weapons, Kearney said.

"That isn't independent," he said. "We're to the point where we have a severe credibility issue."
 

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sounds like it has potential so be a severe problem.
im not worried about getting cancer as much as i am worried about the impact it could have on the fishies.
 

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My neighbor actually presented me with a petition to sign in regards to this issue. Needless to say I signed it in a jiffy. Does anyone know how we could get an online petition going?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Originally posted by mudcat:
Does anyone know how we could get an online petition going?
I found this Info:

TO COMMENT

The public comment deadline on a proposal to treat nerve agent wastewater at the DuPont Co. plant in Deepwater, N.J., is midnight on April 19.

Submit comments to Newport Chemical Stockpile Outreach Office, Box 279, Newport, IN 47966-0517

---------------

Here's Also A Link To Start Online Petitions..
Free Online Petitions
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks Trade,,,,, #77........

[ 03-31-2004, 01:34 PM: Message edited by: NIGHTSTRIKES ]
 

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It is amazing to me that these dumping issues persist - HAVEN'T WE LEARNED OUR LESSON YET?

Does anyone out there think, just because we don't know what harm it will cause, just because there is no evidence on this prticular chemical, that this is enough justification to dump it in any river?

I hope there is a special room in Hell for the people behind these type of dumping practices, and if I fail to pass the test for upward ranking, that I'm put in charge of that special room - I will make sure they suffer...
 

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Originally posted by Ardmore Bill:
It is amazing to me that these dumping issues persist - HAVEN'T WE LEARNED OUR LESSON YET?

Does anyone out there think, just because we don't know what harm it will cause, just because there is no evidence on this prticular chemical, that this is enough justification to dump it in any river?

I hope there is a special room in Hell for the people behind these type of dumping practices, and if I fail to pass the test for upward ranking, that I'm put in charge of that special room - I will make sure they suffer...
Right ON!!!!!! Why send it to Jersey...what Indiana doesnt have a river Nearby??? Something is not right here! Yeah the Army...I trust everything they say :rolleyes: If this happens It'll come by railroad they say, I want to try to find a group to form a human barricade and protest the hell out of it... Let em arrest everybody, it'll draw NATIONAL ATTENTION
This stuff makes my blood boil :mad:
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Delaware Senate opposes VX plan
Lawmakers ask CDC to review the project
By JEFF MONTGOMERY and PATRICK JACKSON
Staff reporters
04/01/2004

Delaware's Senate approved a resolution Wednesday urging the Army to abandon a plan to send nerve agent disposal wastes to a treatment plant near the Delaware Memorial Bridge in New Jersey.

Backers of the resolution called the 17-0 vote a clear signal of community disapproval. Four lawmakers abstained from voting on the nonbinding resolution, which will go to the House.

The resolution focused on a Defense Department proposal to send as much as 4 million gallons of caustic wastewater from an Army VX stockpile in Newport, Ind., to an industrial wastewater treatment plant at the DuPont Co. Chambers Works in Deepwater, N.J.

Delaware lawmakers acted the same day a letter from eight Delaware and New Jersey congressmen was made public asking the Centers for Disease Control for a formal review of the treatment project. Legislators said CDC comments were not made public last month during Army-sponsored community meetings.

"It is important that our constituents have the benefit of CDC's expertise in determining if there are public health risks involved in the Army's proposal," the letter said. It was signed by Delaware Sens. Joe Biden and Tom Carper, and Rep. Mike Castle, and New Jersey Sens. Frank R. Lautenberg and Jon Corzine, and Reps. Robert E. Andrews, Frank A. LoBiondo and Jim Saxton.

Col. Jesse L. Barber, alternative technologies and approaches manager for the Army Chemical Materials Agency, said late Wednesday he had yet to read the Delaware Senate resolution.

"We would consider what the resolution says and factor that into our decisions," Barber said while attending a community briefing on the project near the military stockpile in Indiana.

Barber also said his agency is considering a proposal for independent monitoring of the river during the treatment project to help reassure the community. Preliminary talks have begun with the Academy of Natural Sciences, a national research and education center based in Philadelphia.

"I thought of it as an additional measure to show the citizens that we are trying to safely and effectively do the project," Barber said. "That would go a long way."

Anthony Farina, a spokesman for DuPont, said after the Senate vote the company would support an additional CDC review, and described the academy as "widely respected, locally known as well as locally located."

Army and DuPont officials have said they can complete the two- to four-year project without threatening human or aquatic life. Some environmental groups have opposed the plan, citing what they say are inadequately studied risks from chemicals formed during the breakdown of VX, a nerve-disrupting compound lethal in doses as small as a droplet.

A similar project was withdrawn in Ohio last year in the face of community and government opposition.

DuPont already is treating a different type of wastewater at Chambers Works as a subcontractor for a $1.1 billion Army project to eliminate neutralized waste from a mustard gas stockpile in Aberdeen, Md.

Gregory Patterson, a spokesman for Gov. Ruth Ann Minner, said late Wednesday that Minner is awaiting a state Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control review of the project before taking a position. Although DuPont's plant is in New Jersey, the operation discharges treated wastes underwater in a portion of the river well inside Delaware.

Sen. Margaret Rose Henry, D-Wilmington East, and Rep. Gregory F. Lavelle, R-Sharpley, jointly sponsored the Delaware resolution, which cleared the Senate with little debate after an attempt to table it failed.

Alan Muller, who directs the environmental group Green Delaware, said the Senate vote reflects bipartisan concern about the plan.

"I think the reality is that the support for this is purely limited to the Army and DuPont," Muller said.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
House panel seeks halt to VX plan
Move follows Senate resolution decrying potential treatment of wastewater in N.J.

By JEFF MONTGOMERY
Staff reporter
04/08/2004

A state House committee on Wednesday approved a resolution urging the Army to abandon plans to send nerve agent disposal wastes from Indiana to a treatment plant near the Delaware Memorial Bridge in New Jersey. The decision sets the stage for a full House vote, which could come as early as today.

The resolution targeted a DuPont Co. proposal to treat as much as 4 million gallons of caustic wastewater from an Army VX stockpile in Newport, Ind., at the company's Chambers Works site in Deepwater, N.J.

Although neither Army nor company officials would discuss financial terms for the latest project, DuPont has a $30 million contract for treatment of similar but less hazardous wastes from an Aberdeen, Md., site that neutralizes a blister-forming mustard gas.

Delaware's Senate passed the same resolution last week without dissent. Lawmakers said lobbying was brisk on both sides of the issue.

State officials in Delaware and New Jersey are discussing their concerns about the treated wastewater that would be discharged into a part of the river that lies inside Delaware. The two states' top environmental officers met face-to-face Tuesday night for talks on the proposal.

"We're still working on a joint policy position, and we're still assessing some of the scientific issues that our staff has brought to us," John A. Hughes, secretary of Delaware's Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, said Wednesday.

After the committee hearing Wednesday, Col. Jesse L. Barber, alternative technologies and approaches manager for the Army Chemical Materials Agency, said his agency is confident DuPont's plant can safely dispose of the wastewater. Barber ques-

tioned the need for a formal environmental impact study after New Jersey's environmental chief said last week his agency was considering the need for one.

The Army wants to send about one truckload of caustic wastewater daily to DuPont over the next two years to complete the final stages of a project that will neutralize about 1,269 tons of VX nerve agent. As little as a droplet of VX can be deadly, and Army officials want to destroy all of the Indiana stockpile by 2007 to help meet an international treaty deadline.

DuPont officials released a 350-page study last month that concluded the company can safely transport and treat the waste without jeopardizing public health or aquatic life. Todd Owens, a chemical engineer at the Chambers Works wastewater plant, said company officials also consider the project an aid to the Army's effort to eliminate weapon stockpiles that could become targets for terrorists.

"Make no mistake," Owens said. "We would only be involved if we could assist in a way that was safe - with no adverse impact on our employees, the environment and our communities."

But environmental groups and officials in both states have questioned or disputed several parts of the treatment plan. Some critics also have questioned Army claims that the Indiana treatment process will destroy every molecule of VX, pointing out that striped bass could die at concentrations the government calls its "non-detect" level.

DNREC has focused part of its review on unexamined effects of two phosphorus compounds that will pass through DuPont's wastewater plant largely untouched.

The chemicals, called phosphonic acids, will reach the Delaware River at concentrations company officials say are well within safety limits. But Delaware regulators say they need more information on the compounds, and noted concerns that the discharges could contribute to algae blooms in the river and bay.
 

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Great post Guys!!! I have signed the petition, sent a letter to the public comment portion at New Port Chemical Stockpile and emailed my US Congressman. Below is a copy of the letter. You all might want to consider emailing your US representatives. Its easy, just enter us congressman and click on "write your US congressman" then follow the instructions to send an email. It doesnt take more than five minutes depending on how much you write and I always receive a reply!

Letter to New Port: I am writing this letter to comment on your proposed Dumping of broken down VX gas into the Delaware River. I am truly disturbed by your plans to dump these chemicals into the Delaware River!! It is obvious by my following of this subject that your agencies have absolutely no idea what effect this chemical could have on the sensitive fisheries of the Delaware River. In case you haven?t noticed this river empties into the Delaware Bay and Atlantic Ocean. Hundreds of thousands of NJ and Delaware Residents flock here every year to fish (and eat them) and swim in the waters here. The river is also a breeding ground for the once endangered striped bass which are beginning their migration as you read this. Several reports spoke of the potential to lose a small amount of striped bass and algae blooms in the river. This is totally unacceptable!!! I wonder if your children were to be exposed to this waste water or potentially the fish that swim in it, if you would be so willing to dump it in your area!!! I?ve also read that people in Ohio have been so outraged that you scrapped plans to put this garbage in their back yard. Well I suggest you make plans to scrap the NJ plan because people here are motivating and organizing to stop this garbage from being dumped into our back yard!!!!! I will continue to write to my state legislature and to my local congressmen to encourage them to take a strong stance against the dumping of potentially lethal substances into our local waters.

In case it wasn?t clear by my statements above, I am using my right to public comment to say ?NO, to the dumping of diluted VX into the Delaware River!!!? And if you feel its so safe, dump it in your back yard!!

If it seems a little angry, well, your right. I think we are all tired of seeing beaurocrats make decisions with little or no regard to who they effect. Thanks again for the information on how to voice my opinion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Nerve gas disposal a political dilemma

By BETH MILLER
Staff reporter
04/14/2004

NEWPORT, Ind. -- The military science is clear to the Army brass, who must destroy the United States' stockpile of VX nerve agent. Chemists at the DuPont Co. say their science is safe and their huge New Jersey treatment plant will make the wastewater a harmless addition to the Delaware River.

But the political science may prove the most volatile part of the equation. Elected officials must try to balance election-year pressures with environmental concerns, international treaties, national security, global economies, local business considerations and, especially, the well-being of their constituents and other living things.

"There's really no way to balance all the players and all the considerations," said Vicki Pegg, president of the Board of Montgomery (Ohio) County Commissioners, which dealt with the VX wastewater issue when the Army made a similar proposal with a Dayton company last year. "That's what a good elected official does - find the balance. But there's no such thing in this."

The Dayton area has a large military population, Pegg said, and like other jurisdictions, it needs tax revenue and a strong business climate. But a citizens group in Dayton raised concerns about the impact on the environment. They used petitions, marches, handwritten signs, civil-rights issues, the interest of local media and a constant presence at government and civic meetings throughout the county to defeat the Army's plan.

"They underestimated our will," said Willa Bronston, who lives about a mile from the Dayton plant. "We were about to take some training for nonviolent resistance - and if that meant lying down on the ground in front of driveways and in front of trucks, we were OK with it."

That kind of heat over a single issue in any election year can turn the tide for even the most seasoned politician.

But 2004 is an especially complicated election year. The issues in play include the war in Iraq, triggered in part by the threat of weapons of mass destruction. There is also the continuing struggle in Afghanistan and elsewhere against those who would use any means - including commercial airliners and suicide bombers and, potentially, chemical weapons - to attack the United States and its allies.

Election-year pressures could further jeopardize the Army's plan to ship the wastewater for treatment, because its stock of VX sits about 750 miles away from DuPont's plant, requiring passage through at least four states and scores of smaller jurisdictions.

Even if the wastewater is no more hazardous than a truckload of drain cleaner, as some chemists claim, the trip could be hazardous to the futures of many a politician along the way.

"I don't think VX will have any impact on the governor's race in Indiana or the president's race, but I just had a call from a guy on a board of a small [Indiana] town who is going to send in a resolution opposing the transportation of the waste," said C.W. Engelland, a retired professor of political science at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, 30 miles south of the Newport Chemical Depot.

As in any conflict, this one has elements of propaganda. The fact that the wastewater is a byproduct of VX is played down by the Army, which argues that by the time the process is complete, no VX will be present in the wastewater. The same fact is played up by opponents of the Army's plans, who say nobody has dealt with this kind of wastewater on such a scale before and therefore, no one really knows what will happen.

DuPont has tried to build trust in the science by publishing a 350-page report on its plant's Internet site, allowing people to judge for themselves if the company's plans are sound. After reviewing the report, Delaware environmental officials raised questions.

Trust becomes an issue

All sides of the debate have had some misfires.

The Army posted the first notice of its plan for the DuPont site in a small library in New Jersey in December. It then placed a legal notice in a small New Jersey paper, rather than choosing papers of wider circulation like The Camden (N.J.) Courier-Post or The News Journal. That prompted cries of subterfuge by those who believe the Army hoped to slip in the plan with little public interaction.

DuPont's report was interpreted by some to claim that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had approved the plan, a perception that was quickly disavowed by the CDC.

Opponents have sometimes claimed the Army wanted to ship VX itself instead of the wastewater created when VX is destroyed. Though the caustic wastewater is dangerous, it is not the lethal agent VX. That prompted Army officials to criticize as alarmist and misinformed the campaign to stop the VX disposal plan.

Where unanswered questions and confusion are present, trust is difficult. Where track records appear sound, it's easier.

In the Newport, Ind., area, some residents said they feel comfortable living near the plant and trust the Army's judgment. Many took part in Volksmarches and 4-H trail rides on the scenic 7,000-acre property that still is home to eagles, coyotes, deer, foxes and other wildlife. Sept. 11 changed that, forcing new security measures.

Its perimeter is constantly monitored, and deadly force is authorized against those who try to reach the VX stores, said the depot's commander, Lt. Col. Joseph Marquart.

"The Army has been up front with it all," said Becky Holbert, who lives in Dana, about six miles from the depot.

The trust of some locals has been rattled by a pair of false alarms, though. The first time, several years ago, the call came to evacuate because of a suspected VX incident. The second time, a few months ago, the message was to shelter-in-place, using the duct-tape and plastic-sheeting protective measures that homeland security officials have advocated. Marquart said the recent alarm was triggered by an emergency official's error.

Rick Bray, a volunteer firefighter with the Dana Volunteer Fire Company, said it was terrifying to people like his wife, who took their 2-year-old daughter to the room the Brays have for just such an emergency.

"If there's a VX emergency, we're involved," Bray said. "But the chances of something going wrong are so infinitesimal - and there's a lot scarier stuff on the road than hydrolysate [the wastewater]. ... The good news is, once we get rid of this stuff we'll never have to worry about it again. The end justifies some risk, and the risk here is infinitesimal."

Sara Morgan, a native of a town near Newport whose late father worked at the VX plant, got involved when the Army proposed to destroy the VX by incineration. She opposes the Army's new plan because of the 750-mile trip east.

"Why ship out something that could cause problems for somebody else?" she said. "That's not the way we were brought up out here. ... If it's not right for me, it's not right for anybody."

The risk of spilling the wastewater during shipment was of great interest to Denny Bristol, who coordinates emergency responses to hazardous material incidents in the region that includes Dayton. Bristol said he worried most about the long-term effects of a spill that reached waterways. He urged emergency officials in other jurisdictions to demand documentation of Army claims.

The Army hoped to use Perma-Fix of Dayton to treat the VX wastewater and dispose of it at the Montgomery County wastewater treatment plant.

Perma-Fix is located in the middle of a neighborhood - Drexel, a low-income community in Jefferson Township. Tank trucks going to and from Perma-Fix pass in front of many homes routinely, including Rose Campbell's. Campbell said smells from the plant have caused severe headaches and nausea. She was among those who strongly opposed the plan.

Residents organize

Jefferson Township had been through its share of battles before, with citizens groups successfully fighting proposals for two landfills. The VX wastewater plan was the last straw, group members said.

"This wasn't just going to affect Drexel or Jefferson Township," said one of the organizers, Laura Rench, who owns a Christmas tree farm in Jefferson Township. "Ultimately it was going to be dumped into the Great Miami River. What are the repercussions for fish and wildlife? For drinking water? Who draws from the river downstream? They'll be part of the experiment - and it is a big experiment."

Willa Bronston and Mary Johnson started attending every civic and governmental meeting they could to inform and voice their opposition to the plan.

Eventually, hundreds of people showed up for their meetings and marches. The county hired a chemical consultant and refused to issue a permit.

"We had all different types of people involved, from the super assertive to the angry radical to the rebel with a cause to the make-nice-nice-folks to the 'I'm black and I'm proud' to the 'save-the-children' to the 'what's-in-it-for-me,' " said Maddi Breslin of Dayton. "All managed to work together, to put aside petty differences to get to the goal. Some bailed, some got scared, some were never going to give up no matter what."

Engelland, the retired political science professor, predicts that finding a solution will be as tough now as it ever was.

"We've babysat that stuff for at least 50 years," Engelland said. "I think we're going to have to babysit the waste now."
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Validity of DuPont's tests challenged
Commission says toxic effects of VX wastewater discharge fail to meet N.J. standards

By JEFF MONTGOMERY
Staff reporter
04/20/2004

The Delaware River Basin Commission has challenged the tests used by the DuPont Co. to support its proposal for treating chemical weapons disposal waste at a plant near the Delaware Memorial Bridge, according to Delaware environmental regulators.

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control said the commission determined DuPont failed to use standard methods to evaluate the toxic effects of its discharges into the Delaware River from its plant in Deepwater, N.J.

DuPont reported last month that outside researchers had predicted "no adverse effect on the environment" if the company's Chambers Works site wins a contract to treat caustic wastewater from an Army nerve weapons neutralization plant.

Scientists for the commission, however, suggested that DuPont's treated wastewater, including the proposed new discharge, would fail to meet New Jersey state permit requirements based on routine testing methods, according to DNREC. Those guidelines require survival of at least half the organisms directly exposed to treated wastes after they are diluted by 50 percent.

"It does call into question their conclusions," said Kevin C. Donnelly, water resources director for DNREC. "The issue of toxicity in the river is one of our fundamental concerns."

DuPont spokesman Anthony Farina said the company was not aware of the commission's findings, but said DuPont was confident in studies used to support the proposal.

"We welcome the opportunity to discuss and detail the assessments and appropriate protocols that were followed in completing this comprehensive set of sound science and technical information," Farina said.

Jeff Lindblad, a spokesman for the Army's Chemical Materials Agency, said he had not seen the commission's evaluation.

The commission, which is governed by officials from Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, oversees water supply and quality issues for the entire watershed of 13,539 square miles that drains into the Delaware River and its tributaries.

DuPont wants an Army contract to treat up to 4 million gallons of caustic wastewater from a VX neutralization project at a weapons stockpile in Newport, Ind.

DuPont's plan would discharge treated wastewater from an industrial wastewater plant to a section of the river inside Delaware.

Obscure chemicals cited

A commission official said late Monday he could not discuss the agency's findings until the Army receives the report. But DNREC referred to the toxicity findings in its written objections to the project.

DNREC researchers estimated that 79 percent of two obscure chemicals would pass untreated to the river, raising concerns about effects on aquatic life and algal blooms. Other potential contaminants were unexamined, DNREC said, along with risks to an upstream public water supply.

On Monday, DNREC Secretary John A. Hughes sent the Army a letter saying the military had failed to support a finding that the discharge would have no impact.

DNREC sent an expanded, follow-up letter to one sent last week by Gov. Ruth Ann Minner and New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey urging the Army to treat the wastes "in close proximity" to Newport, Ind.

Hughes said concerns were raised that the earlier objections were misdirected, and might not become a part of the public record.

VX ranks among the most deadly chemical weapons in the U.S. arsenal, capable of killing in amounts as small as a droplet. All of the nation's stores of the material have to be destroyed under an international treaty signed in 1997.

Military backs DuPont

The Army had set an April 19 deadline for public comments on a finding of "no significant impact" from its proposal to have the wastes trucked to Deepwater along a route that could exceed 1,000 miles. Military managers for the project have said they believe DuPont already has required approvals for the treatment plan, despite objections raised by state regulators and environmental groups in Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

New Jersey regulators have said they may impose tighter restrictions on the Deepwater plant's existing discharges, aimed at limiting long-term harm from pollutants in the river. Several major citizen groups, including the 100,000-member New Jersey Environmental Federation, Delaware Nature Society, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Sierra Club Delaware Chapter and Clean Air Council, oppose the project.

On Monday, the Mid-Atlantic Environmental Law Council at Widener University submitted an objection on behalf of the environmental group Green Delaware, and called for a full environmental impact study. The council listed 11 points to support its stand, including potential Clean Water Act violations and inadequate research by DuPont.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Army hears no's on VX disposal
Largest number of 753 comments termed 'vehemently' against project

By JEFF MONTGOMERY
Staff reporter/Delaware Online
05/04/2004


Most of the public comments the Army received on its plan to ship chemical-weapons disposal wastes to a treatment plant near the foot of the Delaware Memorial Bridge were negative, an Army spokesman said Monday.

The Army wants to ship the wastewater to a DuPont Co. factory in Deepwater, N.J., as the final step in a plan to neutralize a 1,269-ton VX stockpile in Newport, Ind. The neutralization project could begin as early as this summer, and could take two to four years.

VX ranks among the nation's most deadly chemical weapons, with a single droplet potentially lethal.

Army spokesman Jeff Lindblad said the government received 753 comments on a proposed finding of "no significant impact" on sending the wastes to the DuPont plant.

"The comments range from vehemently opposed to some being in favor," Lindblad said. "Vehemently opposed is the largest number."

The governors of Delaware and New Jersey, state regulators and environmental and citizens groups have said a large share of some byproducts would be released untreated into the Delaware River. Others raised concerns about safety and pollution from other chemicals in the wastewater.

Lindblad said the Army's current review would focus on transportation risk issues, with a review of public comments expected to take about two months.

Army managers have no plans to reopen a public review period to allow comments on pending evaluations by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Lindblad said. DuPont has said it will await results of the CDC-led study before taking any contract.

[ 05-04-2004, 10:36 AM: Message edited by: NIGHTSTRIKES ]
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
DuPont's VX waste plans blocked
Company must seek permit amendment

By JEFF MONTGOMERY
Staff reporter/Del.Online
05/13/2004


The Delaware River Basin Commission has barred the DuPont Co. from treating neutralized nerve agent wastes at a plant near the foot of the Delaware Memorial Bridge pending a review and ruling by the multistate agency.

Commission executive director Carol R. Collier notified the company by letter May 6 that DuPont is "not authorized" to begin the up to 4-million-gallon treatment job at its industrial wastewater plant in Deepwater, N.J., until the company seeks an amendment to a permit approved in 1991.

Collier also called on the company to explain how its current permit allowed the company to begin a $30 million project in 2002 that could eventually treat 7 million gallons of caustic wastewater from a mustard gas chemical weapon stockpile at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.

The commission gave the company 30 days to acknowledge the ban on treating VX nerve agent wastes and to provide details on the mustard waste project, including an explanation of why DuPont believes its permit would allow the mustard byproduct treatment.

"We're saying we don't think military waste was contemplated" in the company's current commission approval, spokesman Robert Tudor said Wednesday. "And, in fact, we don't think this facility is necessarily that effective in treating VX waste."

DuPont said in a prepared statement Wednesday that executives were surprised by the commission's stand. The company said it consulted with the agency on the mustard project in 2002 without public objection.

"Last year, we proactively consulted with the DRBC regarding our potential assistance to the Army with its wastewater from Newport, Ind. Again, the DRBC did not raise any concerns at the time. Only in the last couple weeks has the DRBC voiced any concerns."

The commission oversees water supply and watershed environmental matters in the 13,500-square-mile area surrounding the Delaware and its tributaries, and issues permits for river water withdrawals, wells and wastewater discharges.

Last month, Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner and New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey opposed the VX waste treatment plan in a joint letter to the Army. Both cited findings that DuPont's commercial industrial wastewater treatment plant will let at least two chemical disposal byproducts pass mostly untreated into the river.

Other proposed new treatment plant ventures, including municipal sewage, infectious wastes and low-level radioactive wastes also will require commission review, Collier said. The company's permit renewal application identifies hundreds of new chemicals that could be discharged into the river compared with the previous application.

The riverside plant is in New Jersey, but treated wastes are discharged in Delaware's portion of the river. DuPont has described the operation, which has a 47.8-million-gallon-a-day capacity, as the largest commercial industrial wastewater plant in North America.

The commission last month said the Army proposal could cause DuPont to violate an important toxic pollution limit in its New Jersey permit, and said the plan requires additional testing for potential toxic effects on the river and aquatic life.

DuPont has said it already has all approvals needed to treat caustic wastewater from destruction of VX nerve agent stockpiled at a depot in Newport, Ind. Current operations are carried out under one of the most stringent water pollution control permits issued by New Jersey, the company said.

"We are confident that the facility can safely and effectively treat both the Aberdeen and Newport wastewaters," DuPont said.

The company, facing public and state regulatory opposition, recently announced it would postpone acceptance of an Army contract for the project while awaiting reviews by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency.

New Jersey said this week officials are investigating reports that DuPont may have treated 7,000 pounds of the VX-related wastes in the mid-1990s without notifying state officials. The state Department of Environmental Protection also has said that New Jersey plans to include new environmental protection requirements in DuPont's discharge permit regardless of the VX decision.

Kevin C. Donnelly, water resources director for Delaware's Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, said the commission's review could be time consuming.

The Army has said it wants to begin neutralizing nerve agents in Newport this summer, with final treatment at DuPont beginning as early as next year. Indiana regulators have said they want the Army to have a "clear path" to final treatment before the neutralization process begins.

Maya K. van Rossum, who directs the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, a multistate conservation group, said the Army has other options for the wastes, including treating the caustic wastewater on the same site as the neutralization operation.

"Here DuPont was pushing through this effort to make themselves more money and get more business, where in reality what they may have ended up doing is creating for themselves a very large, unanticipated headache," van Rossum said. "They have spotlighted themselves now as a facility in need of attention."
 
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