The Umatilla Chemical Depot got the go ahead today from an Oregon’s Circuit Court judge to incinerate thousands of tons of mustard agent. But as Richland Correspondent Anna King reports, the chemical weapons incinerators won’t fire up immediately.
A watchdog group called the Government Accountability Project wants the U.S. Army to stop incinerating mustard agent. Lawyer Richard Condit claims mercury and other toxic chemicals might be released from the plant in northeast Oregon.
Condit: “And we worry that without a court process in place that there won’t be the adequate oversight in place that might help perfect this process if incineration is going to remain the technology.”
The circuit court differed to the state’s judgement that incineration is the best available technology. That doesn’t mean that heavy mustard containers will be rolling into the incinerators right away. The Army suspended operations in late October after concern that containers of blistering agent were boiling over inside the incinerator and coming out smoking. A depot spokesman says they are still working on fixing the boiling over problem.
The Army is now about six months behind on its schedule to destroy more than 2,600 containers of mustard agent.