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Army ships neutralized VX to Texas

April 23, 2007 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 85, Issue 17

The Army had begun shipping the caustic wastewater from the neutralization of VX nerve agent from Newport, Ind., to Port Arthur, Texas???a trek of about 1,000 miles through eight states (C&EN, April 16, page 10). In Texas, Veolia Environmental Services was set to begin incinerating the wastewater, also called hydrolysate, under an existing RCRA (hazardous waste) permit. At C&EN press time, three convoys had already left. The first two convoys, each consisting of four flatbed trucks, left Indiana on April 16; a third four-truck convoy pulled out on April 18. Each truck carries one so-called intramodal container of hydrolysate that had been stored at Newport awaiting secondary treatment. Each container holds about 3,800 gal of hydrolysate. Under the Chemical Weapons Convention, the hydrolysate has to be further treated for the VX to be considered completely destroyed and for the U.S. to earn credit toward meeting its treaty obligation of destroying its 30,000-ton stockpile by 2012. The Chemical Weapons Working Group—a watchdog organization—and environmental groups are expected to sue to halt the Army's hydrolysate shipments. These groups contend that the containers being shipped contain higher than allowed residual levels of VX and a neutralization by-product, sodium S-[2-(diisopropylamino)ethyl]methylphosphonothiolate, also called NaEA 2192. Veolia has a $49 million contract with the Army to burn 2 million gal of the hydrolysate.


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