CHEMICAL WEAPONS WORKING GROUP
P.O. Box 467, Berea, Kentucky 40403
Phone: (859) 986-7565 Fax: (859) 986-2695
e-mail: [log in to unmask]
for more information contact: Craig Williams: 859-986-7565
Brenda Lindell: 256-236-1496
Rufus Kinney : 256 -435-4743
For Immediate Release: Thursday - July 30, 2003
ALABAMA REGULATORS ISSUE ARMY PERMIT TO BURN CHEMICAL WEAPONS:
OPPONENTS VOW LEGAL BATTLE / PROTESTS
Citizens Groups Plan Filing a Restraining Order in Federal Court to
Block Chemical Weapons Incineration Start-Up In Anniston - Protests
Today, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM)
issued it's final approval to allow the Army to burn the 2,253 tons
of chemical warfare agent stored in Anniston. Unnamed high ranking
Army officials confirmed their intention to fire up the facility as
early as August 6-7th.
Several community protection measures the Army agreed to implement
before burning began have yet to be completed, including protective
capabilities at local schools and response plans for the handicapped
. Last week Alabama's Governor, Bob Riley requested the Army not
initiate operations before granting him the authority to stop the
incinerator if he saw fit, but with the permit in hand, this also
appears to have been ignored.
Brenda Lindell, of Families Concerned About Nerve Gas Incineration
(Families) said, "The Army obviously doesn't care about community
protection, preparedness, or the position of the Governor. We expect
the Governor to step forward in the interest of Alabama citizens and
stop this through whatever means necessary."
A growing number of citizens groups in Alabama and neighboring states
oppose incineration and intend on trying to stop the facility from
starting up. Opponents claim the facility will pose a significant
public health and environmental danger to the community and point to
the malfunctions at the Army's existing incinerators to back up their
There have been 18 confirmed agent releases from the incinerators in
Utah and the Pacific along with a long list of technical
malfunctions, worker exposures and emissions violations.
In addition, Alabama has never been offered an opportunity to
consider alternative disposal technologies as have other weapons
storage communities. Of the four states that have had such options
offered, all have rejected incineration for what they consider to be
safer neutralization disposal methods.
Craig Williams, director of the Chemical Weapons Working Group (CWWG)
said, "It is our intention, along with the other plaintiff groups, to
file a Temporary Restraining Order petition to the Federal Court in
Washington, D.C. on Monday. We believe the Army is in violation of
the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other federal
requirements and we intend to do everything possible to prevent the
burning of these weapons in favor of safer disposal methods."
Citizens are also currently engaged in legal action to stop the
incinerators planned for Oregon and Arkansas and to halt operations
in Utah. No lawsuits exist where incineration has been abandoned.
In addition to litigation organizers say the next anti-incineration
protest is planned for Anniston on August 16th.
Rufus Kinney, a local college professor and member of "Families"
said, "The citizens of Alabama are required by Congressional law to
be provided 'Maximum Protection' during chemical weapons disposal.
Incineration can not meet this standard - worse yet, the Army is
moving forward before the community has it's safety and response
measures completely in place. If they fire up on the 7th and have an
accident on the 8th, even our emergency responders are not prepared
to react. This is our own government.......it's nothing short of