State officials were to give formal permission for work to resume at the Army's nerve-gas incinerator on Friday. Meanwhile, the Army issued a press release implying incinerator critics are endangering the public.
"We're preparing to do that right now," Dennis R. Downs, director of the Utah Division of Solid and Hazardous Waste, said late Friday morning. "We're satisfied that the issue's been resolved."On Jan. 26, Downs requested that the incinerator, based at Deseret Chemical Depot in Tooele County, should be shut down after a nerve-gas leak occurred inside the plant. No injuries were reported and no agent left the facility, say officials.
The leak happened when air pressure adjustments allowed a minute level of nerve agent to waft from one area of the plant into another. "They've put in some extra alarm systems so that if the pressure differentials occur again, they will know it immediately," Downs said.
In a press release issued Thursday, depot public affairs officials struck back at critics who said the leak illustrated that the plant had a defective design, poor operating procedures and a lack of a "safety culture."
"The fact is that the safety systems worked," said a press release.
It blasted plant opponents for voicing their concerns. The Army is particularly concerned that the Chemical Weapons Working Group keeps making attempts in court to halt incineration, says the statement.
The attempts force employees "to divert valuable time and resources responding to these unwarranted allegations and attacks," it adds.
"Our communities, workers and the environment would be better protected if TOCDF (the Tooele Chemical Agent Disposal Facility) could dedicate its resources solely to safely eliminating the chemical weapons stockpile."