Issue Date: November 16, 2009
Oregon Judge Rules For Army In Lawsuit
A circuit court judge in Oregon has ruled in favor of the Army in a dispute with a coalition of activists. The group charged that state regulatory officials did not follow proper procedures in determining the "best available technology" for disposing of mercury-laced mustard agent at the Umatilla Chemical Depot, near Hermiston, Ore. The Army, which operates the depot, previously determined that incineration was the proper disposal method. Almost 41% of the depot's original stockpile of 3,700 tons of chemical agents has already been destroyed. "Our use of incineration has a proven track record in terms of safety and agent destruction," says Conrad F. Whyne, director of the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency. Whyne says steps have been taken to ensure that mercury is contained within the system. The coalition argued in the lawsuit that alternative technologies, such as chemical neutralization, release significantly less contaminants than incineration and should be used at the Umatilla depot.
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