Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Chemical disposal plan questioned

By James Hannah
The Associated Press

DAYTON, Ohio - A congressman has asked the Army to address the concerns of residents frightened by its plan to use their neighborhood to dispose of a material produced by neutralizing a deadly nerve agent.

The Army wants to transport the byproduct material, called hydrolysate waste, from its chemical depot in Newport, Ind., to a private contractor in suburban Jefferson Township for disposal.

"I'm opposed to it because I don't think hydrolysate is safe," Hugh McGuire, 46, of Jefferson Township, said Monday. "It is hazardous stuff. If the truck turns over or catches on fire, people can die."

Two weeks ago, township trustees unanimously approved a statement calling the transport of hydrolysate "unacceptable." "I'm concerned about the safety of it," Trustee Ed Ramsey said.

Last week, more than 100 people packed a community meeting on the issue. Many spoke out against the plan.

Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, said the contractor hired to dispose of the hydrolysate, Perma-Fix Environmental Services Inc., must first get "public acceptance" of the disposal under the Army contract.

In a letter to Claude Bolton, assistant secretary of the Army, Turner asked that the Army respect the wishes of the community

"Many people have very valid concerns about the impact on the health of the community. Those need to be addressed," Turner said. "I want to make certain we have a voice in being able to determine the outcome."

Marilyn Daughdrill, spokeswoman for the Army's chemical-materials agency, said she expects the Army to respond to Turner in the next few days. She did not know what the response will be.

"We really would like to have that discussion and open dialogue with that community," Daughdrill said. "The Army wants to do the safest thing possible. I'm hoping we can work together to find a solution to this."

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