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COUNTY TO RECEIVE $13 MILLION OVER 8 YEARS FOR BURNING CHEMICAL AGENTS.

The Army has agreed to pay Tooele County $13 million over the next eight years in compensation for the planned incineration of chemical weapons here.

The Army on Wednesday announced the signing of a mitigation agreement with Tooele County, resolving the county's opposition to the planned destruction of more than 13,000 tons of obsolete chemical agent at the Tooele Chemical Agent Disposal Facility.Tooele County officials wanted the Army to pay up to $35 million a year to offset economic losses they believed they would incur because other businesses would not want to come into the county while the incinerator is in operation.

But County Commissioner Gary Griffith said the $13 million figure is what the county realistically expected.

"We don't think that's enough, but we believe that's what we could get without going to litigation," Griffith said Wednesday. "We're pleased with, if not happy with (the agreement). The Army of course believes (the amount) shouldn't have been anything."

The Army has agreed to pay the county $970 for every ton of chemical agent destroyed here, and will pay the county per ton as the chemicals are incinerated. The Army plans to destroy about 13,603 tons of chemical agent beginning this year and continuing until the year 2003. All told, the county would receive $13,194,910 during that eight-year period.

"Our intent is to use this money to do some things that we've been unable to do in years past because of the Army's presence and (the Army) not paying taxes, such as maybe some recreational facilities," Griffith said. "All we've been able to do for all these years is patch potholes because there was not enough money to do what our citizens deserve to have."

The county felt the Army should make payments similar to those made by private hazardous waste companies who operate incinerators in the county.

"The Army is pleased with the success of these capable teams in facilitating an amicable agreement for all parties," Gilbert F. Decker, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research, Development and Acquisition, said in a press release.

The county's other concern was that the Army should pay for additional emergency response personnel and equipment the county needed in case of a chemical release or other hazardous situation. The Army and the county signed an agreement resolving those concerns earlier this year.

The Army currently plans to begin operations at the Tooele Chemical Agents and Munitions Facility in early June, or as soon as it receives the necessary permits.