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Tooele Chemical Agent Facility Starts Disposals

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 22, 1996 – DoD begAn destroying chemical weapons at the disposal facility at Tooele Army Depot, Utah.

The storage site holds more than 44 percent of the U.S. chemical weapons stockpile. Disposals begin with M-55 rockets filled with GB nerve agent.

The U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City cleared the way for disposals Aug 13. In a 28-page decision, Judge Tena Campbell denied a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit brought by private groups seeking to prevent the Tooele startup.

The state of Utah had approved trial burning of chemical agents on June 26. The Army voluntarily suspended the start of the trial burn until the court reviewed the challenge. The court hearing ran from July 22 to Aug. 2.

Campbell concluded the plaintiffs failed to show an actual risk to anyone posed by emissions at the Tooele facility. For individuals living closest to the facility, "the risks resulting from continued storage are 100 times greater than the risks resulting from disposal operations," the judge wrote. She ruled the Army and its contractor, EG&G Defense Material, had shown problems alleged at the Pacific Ocean prototype facility and at Tooele were either nonexistent or corrected."

"I want to emphasize that our goal is to destroy the chemical weapons stockpile safely while providing maximum protection to the public, the work force and the environment," said Harold P. Smith Jr., assistant to the secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs.

"This is a significant milestone in our joint effort with the people of Utah to make their community an even safer place to live," said Gilbert F. Decker, assistant secretary of the Army for research, development and acquisition.

"We are pleased that the judge, after hearing all the evidence, concluded that this important program should go forward to destroy these dangerous weapons in an environmentally sound manner," said Lois J. Schiffer, assistant attorney general, Department of Justice.

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