A plan to incinerate chemical weapons at the Tooele Army Depot in western Utah just lost a longtime champion: the Tooele County Commission. Although the county's economy depends heavily on the military, commissioners revoked earlier approval of the project, saying adequate safety measures weren't yet in place.
Some 50 residents and county officials
expressed similar fears. They say the federal government hasn't
provided the proper training or equipment to deal with an accident
at the Tooele Chemical Agent Facility, where the U.S. Army plans to
burn 20 million pounds of weapons such as nerve and mustard gas
over a six-year period (HCN, 10/31/94). That amounts to roughly 44
percent of the nation's chemical stockpile.
Commissioners also complained about the Army's
arrogance. In a letter to the Utah Division of Solid and Hazardous
Waste, they said a visiting Army colonel told county workers that
the Army will do whatever it wants and "there is not a damn thing
that they (emergency workers) could say or do that would make a
The Army has been trying to get the
necessary permits to burn the weapons for six years. It needs to
get the Tooele incinerator, plus seven others, up and running by
2004. That's the date set by Congress to dispose of all the
nation's chemical weapons, according to a bilateral agreement with
the former Soviet Union.