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Hearing set on incineration of chemical warfare agents

SHARE Hearing set on incineration of chemical warfare agents

Activists opposed to the Army's burning of chemical warfare agents plan to testify Wednesday night at a public hearing about the incinerator that is operating near Stockton, Tooele County.

Since 1996, the facility has been destroying the country's largest stockpile of nerve and blister agent. But some groups contend other techniques are safer, including methods to neutralize mustard agent.

"Citizens will be demanding that the Army use safer, more advanced, non-incineration technologies that are currently being used in other states, like Maryland and Indiana," said a press release from the anti-incineration group Families Against Incinerator Risk.

The hearing concerns the Utah Department of Environmental Quality proposal to renew the incinerator's operating permit. The session starts at 6 p.m. in Suite 101 of the DEQ's building number 2, located at 168 N. 1950 West.

The original permit expired on June 30, 1999, but its provisions allow the plant to continue operating unless a new permit is denied.

The renewal permit incorporates about 5,000 changes to the old permit, said Dennis R. Downs, director of the Utah Division of Environmental Waste. Some of these new rules were written after unexpected incidents at the incinerator, notably a release of trace amounts of nerve agent into the outside atmosphere.

"There's two pieces to the meeting," Downs said. The first is a public-information session in which "our folks will describe what the permit is and what it does."

Then, about 7 p.m., a public comment session begins. In addition, citizens may submit comments in writing to the Utah Division of Solid and Hazardous Waste, attn. Dennis Downs, P.O. Box 144880 Salt Lake City, UT 84114-4880.

E-mail: bau@desnews.com