Thursday, May 1, 2003

Worries surround chemical disposal

The Associated Press

DAYTON, Ohio - Some suburban Jefferson Township residents say they want no part of an Army plan to hire a company to use Dayton's wastewater treatment plant to dispose of a waste product from highly toxic VX nerve agent.

About 50 people attended an information meeting Tuesday night.

"We don't want your education; we don't want your explanation. We just want you to go away," said Michelle Cooper, a member of Citizens for Responsible Destruction of Chemical Weapons of the Miami Valley.

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

The company, Perma-Fix, specializes in pre-treating industrial waste water before it is sent to municipal treatment plants. It is conducting a demonstration project and public outreach program to determine if hydrolysate can be safely disposed of here.

Dayton, Trotwood, New Lebanon and Jefferson Township have passed resolutions opposing the plan.

Army and Perma-Fix officials note that Perma-Fix would not be treating VX, but a wastewater remnant once it has been neutralized by a process called Supercritical Water Oxidation at the Indiana facility.

Perma-Fix would use natural microscopic organisms to break down the hydrolysate into salts and other by-products that would be treated a second time in Dayton's sanitation treatment plant before being released into local waterways.

Perma-Fix officials have compared hydrolysate to household Drano - still hazardous, but far from the toxic threat posed by VX agent.

Opponents are concerned that the Army's neutralization process has not been fully tested, and that they can't be certain that traces of VX won't remain in the hydrolysate.

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