VX Hydrolysate Shipments Resume | Chemical & Engineering News
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Web Date: August 9, 2007

VX Hydrolysate Shipments Resume

Judge's ruling allows transport of the wastewater from nerve agent destruction
Department: Government & Policy

A federal judge has denied a motion by environmental and community groups for a preliminary injunction to halt Army shipments of caustic wastewater from the hydrolysis of VX nerve agent from Indiana to Texas for final treatment. The Army had voluntarily halted such shipments until the judge's ruling, which now allows the Army to resume transporting the so-called hydrolysate.

As a result of the judge's ruling, a shipment of three tanker trucks carrying hydrolysate left Indiana on Aug. 7, says Army Chemical Materials Agency spokeswoman Karen Drewen. Before it had halted shipments in June, the Army had moved 103 tanker trucks of hydrolysate from its storage/neutralization facility in Newport, Ind., to a private incinerator facility in Port Arthur, Texas.

Plaintiffs, including the Chemical Weapons Working Group (CWWG), had argued that the hydrolysate contains higher levels of VX and a by-product EA2192 than acknowledged by the Army and that the shipments would pose a threat to public health and the environment in the event of an accident or terrorist attack.

In issuing his ruling, Chief Judge Larry J. McKinney of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana wrote that the Army had "sought and received scientific advice"on the safety of transporting the hydrolysate off-site for final treatment. "This court,"he wrote, "cannot and will not substitute its judgment ??? for that of the government.???

CWWG Director Craig E. Williams says the plaintiffs "will file a motion for reconsideration"to McKinney by Aug. 10. If that fails, the plaintiffs "plan to file a notice of intent to appeal to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals,"he says.

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