Transport, incineration of VX wastewater is safe

The SE Texas Record May 10, 2007, 5:00pm

I have since retired from federal service serving as a public affairs officer for this country's chemical weapons stockpile destruction program and I would like to throw my 2 cents at the tripe the Chemical Weapons Working Group et al, are dishing out.

The material in question that the Army is transporting to the Port Arthur facility is a caustic wastewater that results from the chemical neutralization of the VX nerve agent that has been stored at the Newport Chemical Depot for more than 40 years.

Sodium hydroxide is used to rip apart the agent's chemical bonds. What remains is caustic wastewater to which an additional 4 percent sodium hydroxide is added to ensure continuous destruction. It should also be noted that 50 percent, by solution, is transported to the Newport facility for use in the destruction facility located there.

This type of shipment occurs on a daily basis by commercial industry.

The Centers for Disease Control and Environmental Protection Agency have stated, after an in-depth analysis, that the material can be safely transported and that the only risk posed by the wastewater is its caustic characteristics, which would only result in chemical burns on unprotected skin if left untreated.

Hazardous materials response teams throughout the country are trained, and have the equipment, to respond to spills of such material.

Though such wastewater has not ever been incinerated, it is important to note that at two other Army chemical weapons storage sites, in Tooele, Utah, and Anniston, Ala,, pure liquid VX from munitions stored there have been safely destroyed using incineration. An additional two other sites that have VX munitions will also be destroying their VX stockpiles.

Whether it is liquid VX or a caustic wastewater from the neutralization of VX, it can and will be safely done without risk to the public or the environment.

Burn the almost 2 million gallons wastewater at a permitted incinerator facility.

Go ahead and file the legal briefs and seek injunctions. I guess with a legal record of 0 and 21, they can't go wrong.

Jeff Lindblad
Edgewood, Md.

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