2004 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 8 Mar 2004 15:15:34 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: Anniston Incidents PR
Chemical Weapons Working Group
PO Box 467  Berea, KY  40403
(859) 986-7565   (859) 986-2695

for more information:
Craig Williams  (859) 986-7565
Rufus Kinney  (256) 435-4743

for immediate release:  Friday, March 4, 2004

Two weeks after citizens groups asked a high ranking Army official to
investigate the Anniston, Alabama chemical weapons incinerator, the
groups are angered that no response has come, particularly in light of
additional incidents at the Anniston Army Depot and failures at the
incinerator this week.

"Its like Nero fiddling while Rome burned," said Rufus Kinney of
Jacksonville, Alabama.  "Only this time the Army is fiddling while
chemicals weapons are burning near a population center of 75,000
people."  Kinney added, "This community is owed the decency of a
prompt response and definitive action."

On February 16, Kinney's group, Families Concerned About Nerve Gas
Incineration, and 19 other organizations sent a letter to Michael
Wynne, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology
and Logistics, asking for a full investigation of incidents at the
Anniston incinerator since operations began in August.  The letter
identified eleven specific areas of technical malfunctions, worker
safety incidents, and significant gaps in public information,
indicating a "serious pattern of events" at the facility.

Adding to the ire of local residents are more recent developments.
This week the EPA announced that the Anniston incinerator failed its
Trial Burns, held in November, for emissions of PCBs - indicating they
have been out of compliance with federal regulations since operations
began on 9 August 2003).  On Tuesday, the Army confirmed a leak of GB
(Sarin) agent into the atmosphere from the weapons storage area. Also,
on Monday, monitors at the edge of the Anniston Army Depot confirmed
the presence of the most lethal agent in the U.S. arsenal, VX .  The
Army has not been able to explain the source of the VX agent, and all
the monitor samples were destroyed during the basic confirmation
tests, with no samples left to conduct a more detailed analysis.

Reverend N.Q. Reynolds, President of the Calhoun County Chapter of the
Southern Christian Leadership Conference, said "They've gone and used
up all the evidence from the monitors that detected the VX agent, and
now there is no way to know for sure what happened.  This raises very
serious questions about whether the Army really wanted to get to the
bottom of this."

Citizens in Alabama and elsewhere responded to the mysterious VX nerve
agent detection by calling on legislators to force the Army
immediately deploy improved monitoring systems at chemical weapons
sites like Anniston.  Last November, federal lawmakers passed a "Sense
of the Congress" amendment to the 2004 Defense Bill, strongly urging
the Army to use chemical agent monitoring devices that can provide
real-time, accurate confirmation of chemical agents near the perimeter
of the depots where weapons are stored and  being destroyed.

But so far, the Army has shrugged off Congress' recommendation.  Craig
Williams, Director of the national Chemical Weapons Working Group
coalition, says the Army's reluctance to add better monitoring systems
is a "national disgrace."  Williams said, "The military wants to show
its stuff when it comes to finding chemical agents overseas, but it
refuses to deploy advanced monitoring systems to provide reliable
information to U.S. citizens.  Its shameful."


The February 16 letter to Secretary Wynne is available on the CWWG
website <www.cwwg.org

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