4
Permitting Considerations and Public Participation

One reason for the successful implementation of the program to destroy chemical agent and munitions at Pueblo Chemical Depot (PCD) has been the constructive interaction with interested stakeholders in the Pueblo, Colorado, area and in the larger public nation-wide. As described in an earlier National Research Council report (NRC, 1999a), both the Army and residents of the Pueblo area have invested substantial time and resources in dialogue and consensus building concerning the evaluation and selection of nonincineration alternatives for destroying the chemical munitions stored at the PCD and elsewhere.

Over several years, in preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (for which a Record of Decision was issued in August 2002), the Army worked with the local community, the State of Colorado, and a group of regional and national stakeholders to agree on the location of the facility at PCD and the choice of technology (U.S. Army, 2002b). This was called the Assembled Chemical Weapons Assessment (ACWA) Dialogue, and it has been dubbed the “new style of doing business.” This approach contrasts with the more traditional “public outreach” efforts that emphasize first selecting a technology and then informing or educating the public, rather than involving the public in any significant way during the program design and implementation.

The ACWA Dialogue, which includes citizens from nine states and regulators from federal, state, and tribal governments, as well as Army personnel, wrote the request for proposal (RFP) for identifying and selecting alternative technologies to incineration. The ACWA Dialogue then reviewed the proposals and also specified three sets of criteria for assessing the acceptability of alternatives. The ACWA Dialogue worked with Citizens Advisory Commissions (CACs) and other groups to develop an opinion about the public acceptability of these technologies (U.S. Army, 2001).

Finding 4-1. The Assembled Chemical Weapons Assessment Dialogue has been widely viewed as successful because it produced consensus on the choice of technology to be developed and implemented at the Pueblo Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant (PCAPP) facility. The maintenance of the communication and dialogue process through the life cycle of the plant is very likely to continue to prove beneficial to the safe and rapid completion of PCAPP operations.

Recommendation 4-1. The Army and its contractors should regularly review, with community and citizen groups, the ongoing effectiveness of the “new way of doing business” that has thus far characterized the effort to safely and effectively destroy the chemical agent and munitions at Pueblo Chemical Depot in Colorado. The committee believes that this formal review will maintain the vitality and effectiveness of the overall process, thereby facilitating the rapid and safe completion of Pueblo Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant operations.

PERMITTING CONSIDERATIONS

In addition to aiding in the choice of a technology,



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 48
Interim Design Assessment for the Pueblo Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant 4 Permitting Considerations and Public Participation One reason for the successful implementation of the program to destroy chemical agent and munitions at Pueblo Chemical Depot (PCD) has been the constructive interaction with interested stakeholders in the Pueblo, Colorado, area and in the larger public nation-wide. As described in an earlier National Research Council report (NRC, 1999a), both the Army and residents of the Pueblo area have invested substantial time and resources in dialogue and consensus building concerning the evaluation and selection of nonincineration alternatives for destroying the chemical munitions stored at the PCD and elsewhere. Over several years, in preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (for which a Record of Decision was issued in August 2002), the Army worked with the local community, the State of Colorado, and a group of regional and national stakeholders to agree on the location of the facility at PCD and the choice of technology (U.S. Army, 2002b). This was called the Assembled Chemical Weapons Assessment (ACWA) Dialogue, and it has been dubbed the “new style of doing business.” This approach contrasts with the more traditional “public outreach” efforts that emphasize first selecting a technology and then informing or educating the public, rather than involving the public in any significant way during the program design and implementation. The ACWA Dialogue, which includes citizens from nine states and regulators from federal, state, and tribal governments, as well as Army personnel, wrote the request for proposal (RFP) for identifying and selecting alternative technologies to incineration. The ACWA Dialogue then reviewed the proposals and also specified three sets of criteria for assessing the acceptability of alternatives. The ACWA Dialogue worked with Citizens Advisory Commissions (CACs) and other groups to develop an opinion about the public acceptability of these technologies (U.S. Army, 2001). Finding 4-1. The Assembled Chemical Weapons Assessment Dialogue has been widely viewed as successful because it produced consensus on the choice of technology to be developed and implemented at the Pueblo Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant (PCAPP) facility. The maintenance of the communication and dialogue process through the life cycle of the plant is very likely to continue to prove beneficial to the safe and rapid completion of PCAPP operations. Recommendation 4-1. The Army and its contractors should regularly review, with community and citizen groups, the ongoing effectiveness of the “new way of doing business” that has thus far characterized the effort to safely and effectively destroy the chemical agent and munitions at Pueblo Chemical Depot in Colorado. The committee believes that this formal review will maintain the vitality and effectiveness of the overall process, thereby facilitating the rapid and safe completion of Pueblo Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant operations. PERMITTING CONSIDERATIONS In addition to aiding in the choice of a technology,

OCR for page 48
Interim Design Assessment for the Pueblo Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant the ACWA Dialogue facilitated public endorsement of an accelerated approach to Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) permitting (Klomp, 2004). The Army and the Bechtel Pueblo team applied for a phased research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) RCRA permit. RD&D permits are intended for situations in which no promulgated standards for the waste treatment technology exist. The PCAPP facility falls under this category. An advantage of the RD&D permit is that the state may modify or waive permit application or issuance requirements to expedite the permit. In Pueblo, the local involvement and ACWA Dialogue efforts may have already paid substantial dividends in the form of very rapid progress in obtaining the necessary state RCRA permit. The permit application was submitted in December 2003, amended in March 2004, and made available for public comment in April 2004. A Phase 1 permit was granted in July 2004 (CDPHE, 2004a). The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) agreed to allow the Army to begin phased construction operations before the entire permit was issued for PCAPP. The Phase 1 permit enables limited preliminary construction activities such as the building of access roads and utility services needed by the facility. Phase 2 applies to the construction of nontreatment buildings and Phase 3 to construction of the treatment buildings. It is unusual for the state to issue a permit before the design of the treatment process is complete. However, the CDPHE has stated that this “phased approach” to permitting is allowed by state law (CDPHE, 2004b). The public appears to accept this approach. The CDPHE has stated that the phased permitting process enhances the opportunity for public review and input (CDPHE, 2004c). Under the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Enhanced Rule for Public Participation in RCRA permitting, the applicant is required to hold a pre-application meeting and may be required to have materials available in a public repository. A public comment period after the draft permit is issued is also required. Thus, public comment periods are held at each phase of the permitting process, enabling comments to focus on specific segments of the facility design. The CDPHE held three public meetings in the Pueblo area to explain the permit application and process, and it held one public hearing in Pueblo to collect public comments. One limitation of the RD&D permit is that the EPA specifies that it can only be issued for the period of 1 year and may be renewed for a maximum of 3 years. Also, it can only be used to demonstrate a new technology. Because PCAPP will exist much longer than 3 years, and since it is intended to treat waste, not merely to demonstrate a technology, a standard RCRA permit will be required at some point. If the public is not satisfied with the Army’s or the Bechtel Pueblo team’s performance at the time that the standard permit application is made, that process may become contentious. The expectations of the community, set by experience with the ACWA Dialogue and the subsequent working groups that have been formed, are quite high for continued openness to input from and involvement by the public. The outstanding success of the program in rapidly moving through the Colorado state permitting process to date reflects, in part, the legacy and current success of the public involvement process. Finding 4-2a. The phased approach to the permit—a research, development, and demonstration Resource Conservation and Recovery Act permit—for the Pueblo Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant appears to be advantageous to public review and involvement in the permitting process. The committee observes that the CDPHE was motivated to adopt a phased permitting approach by the stated local, state, and national interest in accelerating the destruction of the chemical weapons at PCD. Local community members anticipate a huge public investment in the region that will significantly affect the local and regional economy (Emery, 2004). Much of the public goodwill toward Pueblo Chemical Depot and the permitting is based on a perception of a net positive return in terms of economic development and hazard elimination. Finding 4-2b. Any change in budget priorities that jeopardizes accelerated chemical weapons destruction at Pueblo Chemical Depot would undercut the commitment by the state to this effort and diminish the trust acquired with the local community and interested regional and national stakeholder groups, leaving in its wake a sense of betrayal (CDPHE, 2004b). Finding 4-2c. Public trust in the Bechtel Pueblo team, contractor for the Pueblo Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant, and the Army depends on their sustaining positive relationships and a track record of keeping commitments. Keeping this trust is important for suc-

OCR for page 48
Interim Design Assessment for the Pueblo Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant cess in the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act permitting process. Recommendation 4-2. The Army and its contractors for the Pueblo Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant must continue to maintain a program of dialogue and involvement that is open and responsive to public concerns so that significant concerns are identified early and addressed. PUBLIC ACCEPTANCE AND INVOLVEMENT The Colorado Chemical Demilitarization CAC has continued to be active following the initial approval of the neutralization-biodegradation technology for chemical weapons destruction at PCAPP, and in many respects the Army and the Bechtel Pueblo team have acted to implement the “new style of doing business” that has resulted since 1997 from the ACWA Dialogue process. A public forum sponsored by the CAC and the Assembled Chemical Weapons Assessment led to the creation of three working groups, each with a substantial membership (20 to 30 members).1 These include a working group on acceleration options (now in standby mode, as initial efforts have been completed); a working group on public involvement (which is now spinning off a working group on “community sustainability”); and a working group on permitting issues. Participants in the working groups include volunteers, local government representatives, stakeholder groups, the Army, and others, who have committed considerable individual time and energy. It should be anticipated that active community members may become unable to continue participating in the working groups indefinitely for various reasons. Finding 4-3. For the public involvement process in the Pueblo Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant effort to remain effective despite changes in participants, membership in working groups must be continually renewed. Recommendation 4-3. A working group membership renewal process should be carefully maintained by identifying new participants and familiarizing them with the ongoing Pueblo Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant dialogue so that the public remains actively engaged in formal and independent review and oversight. The CDPHE prepared a draft public participation plan for the chemical stockpile disposal program (CDPHE, 2004d). This plan outlines objectives to keep the local community informed and involved. It specifies objectives and requirements for public participation. The committee has not yet received Bechtel’s final Strategic Communication Plan describing its overall community involvement and communication program. However, the state’s plan demands a multidimensional involvement program. Besides past and present interaction with the ACWA Dialogue and the CAC, this program has included efforts to ensure that vulnerable and marginalized groups (such as minority businesses and migrant farmworkers) are informed and given opportunities to express their concerns about the program. Finding 4-4. The Draft Public Participation Plan for the Chemical Weapons Stockpile Disposal Program, U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot, issued by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, appears to abide by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Enhanced Public Participation Rule for the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (Federal Register, 1995). Recommendation 4-4. The Bechtel Pueblo team should produce a final public participation plan that is consistent with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Draft Public Participation Plan and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Enhanced Public Participation Rule for the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and, in particular, ensure that the environmental justice considerations of involving all segments of the population are applied. Having the Bechtel Pueblo team run the public involvement program has not received uniformly positive reviews. Some observers argue that it may have been a mistake for the Army to turn the public interface function over to the same contractor that is responsible for implementing the demilitarization program. While the current contractor seems to be performing the public involvement program admirably, potential conflicts of interest exist and may result in problems in the future. One potential problem is that of incentives: The 1   The activities and minutes of the CAC and its subgroups can be found online at <www.cdphe.state.co.us/hm/archive/pcd/pcdcac1002min.pdf>. Last accessed November 9, 2004.

OCR for page 48
Interim Design Assessment for the Pueblo Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant contractor has a large stake in ensuring that the public is quiescent, if not supportive of the program, and information that may increase public concerns may not be disclosed. On the other hand, the contractor has significant incentives to fully disclose information and gain community “buy-in” early, in order to reduce the time necessary to obtain the permits and to destroy the Pueblo chemical agent and munitions stockpile. Because the contract provides financial incentives for reducing the time required to obtain necessary permits and destroy agent and munitions, failure to conduct effective community involvement could penalize the contractor. Such failure would likely increase opposition to permitting and therefore delay the program. The committee believes that if an independent contractor were given the responsibility for conducting the public involvement program, the contractor would be dependent on the Bechtel Pueblo team for information about incidents, changes in operations, and so on. Thus, such an independent contractor might simply be one more layer between the primary contractor for PCAPP and the public and might impede rather than enhance the flow of information. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Draft Public Participation Plan reports on results of CDPHE interviews with local residents and remarks, “The issue of a lack of trust for the Army remains a stumbling block for the community” (CDPHE, 2004c, p. 15). This lack of trust may also pose difficulties for the state, for the Army, and for the Bechtel Pueblo team, especially if new controversies or incidents occur. Also noted in the CDHPE interviews was a deficiency in making readily available adequate information about incidents. Specifically, interviewees expressed concern over inadequate information concerning leaking munitions found in 2003. The perception of inadequate disclosure of incidents is related to the potential conflict-of-interest issues raised above. Oversight by outside objective parties and constant monitoring were cited by many interviewees as important ingredients to regaining public confidence (CDPHE, 2004c). Finding 4-5. Based on interviews by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment with local residents, activists, officials, and others involved in public participation activities relating to the Pueblo Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant, it is clear that a good rapport was carefully constructed via the ACWA (Assembled Chemical Weapons Assessment) Dialogue and ongoing public participation at Pueblo Chemical Depot and surrounding communities. This interaction has produced consensus on what the proper course of action should be. There are many advantages to having broad local buy-in to the program, as now exists. However, in the absence of independent program oversight, a fragility results. Interviewees commented that independent oversight encourages credibility. When independent oversight is absent, incidents can have devastating effects on the credibility of the process. Recommendation 4-5. The Army should closely monitor the implications of having the contractor for the Pueblo Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant carry out the dual role of implementing the demilitarization program and the public involvement program. Continued diligence by the Army, the contractor, and community groups and citizens will be necessary to ensure that conflicts do not develop between these roles.