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Review of Secondary Waste Disposal Planning for the Blue Grass and Pueblo Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plants 5 Public Participation A review and analysis of public participation in the current phase of the Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives (ACWA) program is presented in this chapter, which also contains information gathered during visits to the communities adjacent to the BGCAPP and PCAPP sites to ascertain stakeholder perspectives on secondary waste issues. BGCAPP STAKEHOLDER INTERACTIONS AND ISSUES Mechanisms for Public Outreach and Involvement The communities around the Blue Grass Army Depot (BGAD) have a long history of concern about the storage and demilitarization of chemical warfare materiel stockpile at the site. In fact, local opposition to proposed incineration, expressed through Kentucky’s congressional delegation, played a key role in the creation of the Assembled Chemical Weapons Assessment program (as it was then named) in 1996.1 Today, BGCAPP, in conjunction with the Blue Grass Chemical Activity (BGCA) and management for the BGAD itself,2 has a generally effective system for informing the public and eliciting comment from diverse representatives of adjacent communities, primarily Berea and Richmond. Each of the three entities operates a public affairs office, and the BGCAPP systems contractor has its own public relations staff. These officials serve as spokespersons for the Army activities. It is their job to explain proposed activities as well as unplanned events—such as leaking chemical agent containers—to the public. However, the key institution for facilitating communications with the public is the Blue Grass Chemical Stockpile Outreach Office, funded by DOD and operated by a contractor (not, however, the systems contractor, Bechtel National, Inc.). The Outreach Office publishes fact sheets and newsletters, maintains a mailing list of 2,800, participates in local events such as the annual Safety Fair, operates a speakers bureau, and facilitates public meetings. Most important, it supports the Kentucky Chemical Demilitarization Citizens’ Advisory Commission (CAC) and a CAC subsidiary, the Chemical Destruction Community Advisory Board (CDCAB). The CAC, established by Kentucky statute in 1994, is made up of nine members appointed by the governor of Kentucky. Seven are local citizens and two are representatives of state agencies that work closely with the chemical weapons disposal program. The CDCAB, formed in 2003 under the auspices of the CAC, provides for broader public representation and has 21 voting members as well as 6 representatives of the agencies being advised by the body (see Box 5-1). In general, the CDCAB takes positions by consensus. Its meetings are independently facilitated by the Keystone Center, an organization that assists groups in acquiring information needed to make collective decisions. Not everyone in the community supports or even follows the positions taken by the organized public participation groups. Local activists report that there is substantial community sentiment that simply supports prompt elimination of the chemical stockpile, without backing—or opposing—CDCAB positions on how to go about it. Summary of CDCAB Secondary Waste Working Group Positions and Resolutions The CDCAB Secondary Waste Working Group, made up of fewer than 10 CDCAB voting members, meets with regulatory agency representatives regularly and studies waste disposition issues in detail. It makes recommendations 1 In June 2003, the name of the program was changed to the Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives program. 2 BGCAPP is a Department of Defense (DOD) ACWA program facility. The BGCA is an Army Chemical Materials Agency (CMA) management entity for the chemical stockpile storage area and the site for BGCAPP within the BGAD. The BGAD encompasses additional Army activities and is under the jurisdiction of the Army Material Command.
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Review of Secondary Waste Disposal Planning for the Blue Grass and Pueblo Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plants Box 5-1 Members of Kentucky Chemical Destruction Community Advisory Board, December 2007 Voting members Berea Chamber of Commerce Berea civic representative Berea College Berea community schools Chemical Weapons Working Group Citizens’ Advisory Commission Citizens’ Advisory Commission City of Berea councilman City of Richmond Commonwealth of Kentucky state senator Eastern Kentucky University Madison County Emergency Management Agency Madison County Fiscal Court Madison County Ministerial Association Madison County schools National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Pattie A. Clay Regional Medical Center Richmond Chamber of Commerce Richmond civic representative Saint Joseph of Berea Hospital Nonvoting members U.S. Senator’s Office Kentucky Division of Emergency Management Blue Grass Chemical Activity Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives Blue Grass Army Depot SOURCE: Adapted from PMACWA, 2007a. to the CDCAB as a whole. The CDCAB passed two resolutions in 2007 and one in early 2008 on waste disposition, all by consensus. Two addressed agent hydrolysate and the other addressed noncontaminated energetic wastes. The October 8, 2007, CDCAB resolutions on treatment of noncontaminated rocket motors repeated the board’s earlier position indicating potential support for either offsite recycling at a government facility or treatment at the planned BGCAPP supercritical water oxidation (SCWO) facility. The resolutions also supported study of the use of the static detonation chamber for noncontaminated rocket motors only (CDCAB, 2007). The CDCAB generally accepts the offsite shipment and disposal of secondary wastes, including closure wastes (other than agent hydrolysate), as long as it can be shown that the level of agent contamination is below the release criteria that it accepts, which generally comport with the waste clearance levels accepted by the regulatory authorities. However, it has not yet taken positions on the disposition of activated carbon filters or the less significant waste stream comprising chemicals with expired shelf life.3 Other Community Positions In addition to the official bodies, the national activist coalition—the Chemical Weapons Working Group (CWWG)—is based in nearby Berea. Although CWWG has member organizations at all sites that have stockpiles of chemical weapons, its leadership is directly involved at the Blue Grass site. CWWG’s executive director is cochair of the CDCAB. Formed in 1991, CWWG’s original focus was opposition to the incineration of chemical warfare materiel, but in a document entitled “International Citizens’ Accord on Chemical Weapons Disposal,” it opposed the transport of stockpile munitions: “If, as a last resort, transportation of chemical weapons must be undertaken, it should be only for final treatment and/or disposal, after necessary stabilization, with the consent of affected communities” (Crow et al., 1992). While the accord does not specifically address secondary wastes, CWWG says it intends to cover what it considers to be agent-contaminated wastes. Its stated views on secondary wastes are essentially the same as those of the CDCAB as a whole (see also Box 5-2). CWWG brings to the Blue Grass community its long-term involvement with secondary wastes at other sites, including the Newport Chemical Agent Disposal Facility in Indiana, where it has gone to court, unsuccessfully thus far, to prevent the offsite disposal of hydrolysate from the neutralization of VX nerve agent. It also reports what it considers successful cooperation with the Army’s Non-Stockpile Chemical Materiel Project in helping select a technology and location for disposing of much of the waste produced from treatment of chemical weapons materiel recovered from burial sites. CWWG and its affiliates actively participated in the Core Group of the Non-Stockpile Project. Although the Core Group was initially modeled on the original ACWA Dialogue,4 it was not confined to communities with facilities managed by the Army’s chemical demilitarization programs. In fact, a CWWG spokeswoman suggested that ACWA might benefit from a national advisory body like the Core Group, which would include representatives of communities where treatment, storage, and disposal facilities (TSDFs) receive 3 Information provided to the committee by Craig Williams, director, CWWG, March 24, 2008. 4 The ACWA Dialogue was a group that operated during the technology selection phase of the ACWA program. It consisted of representatives of the various stakeholder constituencies and was moderated by the Keystone Center.
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Review of Secondary Waste Disposal Planning for the Blue Grass and Pueblo Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plants Box 5-2 Meeting Between Committee Chair and an Employee of the Environmental Protection Agency Assigned to Serve as Liaison to CWWG On May 23, 2008, in an effort to ensure that the committee considers all sources of information and listens to groups that may have an impact on secondary waste management at the two ACWA sites, Peter Lederman, the chair of the committee, met with Marsha Marsh, a participant in the Intergovernmental Personnel Act Mobility Program,1 who had been assigned to the CWWG from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Division of Homeland Security. One topic was how National Research Council committees operate to ensure that they are independent. Some past studies were discussed as examples of the work the National Research Council has done over the years. At the request of Craig Williams of the CWWG, Ms. Marsh provided several pertinent documents: L. Ember in C&EN March 24, “Review of the modified method for analysis of VX hydrolysate; and Declaration of Michael Sommers II, Ph.D., before the U.S. District Court for Southern Indiana, Case No. 2:07-cv-101. The committee had already received these documents so no additional information was provided to the committee. 1The Intergovernmental Personnel Act Mobility Program provides for the temporary assignment of Federal Government personnel to state and local governments, colleges and universities, Indian tribal governments, federally funded research and development centers, and other eligible organizations. wastes from BGCAPP and PCAPP and would be formed for the purpose of reviewing proposals for offsite waste shipment. Since many TSDFs are situated in communities of color and low-income communities, CWWG suggests that environmental justice—particularly the need to consider the cumulative impact of toxic exposures—would call for efforts to involve such communities.5 Issues Specific to the Treatment of BGCAPP Hydrolysates In Kentucky, community members view DOD’s 2002 selection of neutralization followed by supercritical water oxidation (SCWO) as a commitment to the community. Together with Blue Grass Army Depot, the Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives program has worked with the community in selecting neutralization followed by supercritical water oxidation (SCWO) as the technology to destroy the chemical weapons stored there.6 Recent studies dealing with the possibility of offsite treatment of disposal of hydrolysate have triggered opposition. On April 9, 2007, the CDCAB recommended that “all agent and energetic hydrolysate generated at the BGCAPP should be treated on site via the secondary treatment process identified in the 2003 Record of Decision—SCWO” (CDCAB, undated, p. 1). It listed reasons such as controversies and uncertainties associated with transportation and treatment at commercial facilities; the initial Record of Decision for the design of BGCAPP, which included the use of SCWO; the economic benefits of local work; and a belief that offsite disposition would result in minimal cost savings. In addition, members of the CDCAB told the committee that they believe that the Army has not demonstrated a method that adequately characterizes VX concentrations in VX hydrolysate. In January 2008, in response to Army plans to expeditiously dispose of the materials contained in the three one-ton containers stored at the BGCA, the CDCAB recommended on-site storage of hydrolysate “until such time as adequate information is gathered to determine the most appropriate course of action for [its] final disposition.” (CDCAB, 2008). Although the BGAD project to dispose of ton containers is not within the scope of this study, CDCAB members made it clear to committee members they were concerned that offsite treatment of those wastes might set a precedent for the offsite disposal of BGCAPP agent hydrolysate.7 Kentucky opponents of offsite shipment and disposal of agent hydrolysate have made it clear that they intend to go beyond just giving advice through the CDCAB: They say they will use their political influence, the permitting process, and perhaps even legal action to oppose such shipments. While it is not clear whether they will be able to prevent offsite shipment, under existing statutes and regulations they are clearly in a position to delay it. If the Program Manager for Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives (PMACWA) decides to rely upon offsite treatment and disposal for neutralization wastes, the decision may delay the demilitarization process itself (see Chapter 6). Still, at least one member of the community has spoken forcefully in favor of offsite disposal of hydrolysate, questioning the effectiveness of the SCWO process (Shannon, 2008). PCAPP STAKEHOLDER INTERACTIONS AND ISSUES Mechanisms for Public Outreach and Involvement The Pueblo community, like its counterpart in Kentucky, has a long history of public involvement in the oversight 5 Comments to the committee by Elizabeth Crowe, Kentucky Environmental Foundation, at a public meeting, January 24, 2008. 6 See http://www.pmacwa.army.mil/ky/technology.htm. 7 Comments made at a public meeting on January 24, 2008.
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Review of Secondary Waste Disposal Planning for the Blue Grass and Pueblo Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plants of storage and disposal of chemical warfare materiel at the Pueblo Chemical Depot (PCD). Local activists, in coalition with those in Kentucky, persuaded Congress to establish alternatives to incineration. The ACWA program at Pueblo operates a robust, tiered public outreach and involvement program. In pursuing the goal, which is to provide consistent opportunities for public involvement and encourage community participation in the decision-making process, it collaborates with the Colorado Chemical Demilitarization CAC; involves elected officials, regulatory and emergency management agencies, and the workforce; and informs other community entities (PMACWA, 2008c). The Pueblo Chemical Stockpile Outreach Office maintains a mailing list of more than 2,000 people, publishes a newsletter and project updates, and runs a speakers bureau that makes presentations to civic groups, business organizations, local officials, and more than 3,000 students each year. In particular, the committee is pleased with the outreach office’s efforts to inform difficult-to-reach constituencies, such as Spanish-speaking migrant workers in the community of Avondale, near PCD. The outreach office also supports the quasi-governmental local reuse authority, which is planning for the reuse of PCD real estate once demilitarization is completed. At the time the committee visited Pueblo (see Appendix A), the local ACWA public affairs position was vacant and the PCD public affairs officer was a new hire. It would seem obvious that when potentially controversial decisions are being made, the Army’s various public affairs and involvement programs in Pueblo should be fully staffed. The focal point for public discussion of the Army’s demilitarization plans at Pueblo is the CAC. Formed in 1993, the commission’s members are appointed by the Colorado governor and administered by a Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) official (see also Box 5-3). While some CAC documents are found on the ACWA Web site, CDPHE maintains a complete archive of CAC activity. Its Web site explains as follows: The Citizens’ Advisory Commission consists of nine members—seven are members of the community at-large and two are state officials. The Governor appointed each Citizens’ Advisory Commission member to serve an unlimited term at his or his successor’s discretion. Although the Colorado Citizens’ Advisory Commission receives limited federal funding from the Department of Defense, it operates independent of Army influence.8 CAC Positions and Resolutions Since its inception, the CAC has been supportive of the design proposed in 2003 for PCAPP—that is, neutralization Box 5-3 Members of Colorado Chemical Demilitarization Citizens’ Advisory Commission Chair (local resident) District Attorney’s Office County Commissioner Plumbers and Pipefitters Union Retired judge Adjacent property owner Sierra Club Governor’s Office of Policy and Initiatives Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment SOURCE: Adapted from PMACWA, 2007b. followed by the biological treatment of hydrolysate. For example, in June 2005 it resolved as follows: The Colorado Chemical Demilitarization Citizens’ Advisory Commission (CAC) and the Pueblo community are committed to the safe and effective destruction of chemical weapons. The use of neutralization/biotreatment, with as much of the process completed on site, remains, in the opinion of the CAC and a majority of the citizens in the Pueblo community, the safest and most publicly acceptable method for the destruction of the weapons stored at the Pueblo Chemical Depot (PCD).9 In fact, CAC members assert that their support expedited the regulatory review of the program by CDPHE. The CAC has consistently opposed the offsite shipment of untreated hydrolysate (see next section). It has also reviewed the offsite shipment of dunnage (wooden pallets and boxes) and energetics (propellants, fuses, and bursters) and issued a series of recommendations in which it opposes the offsite shipment of agent-contaminated dunnage and energetics as well as unstable energetics. Before the Army submission of the Waste Analysis Plan for PCAPP, the CAC called for analytical procedures to determine reliably whether any such substances are contaminated with agent (Colorado CAC, undated; Vincent, 2005).10 The CAC has supported the recycling of decontaminated munitions bodies, but it has not directly taken positions on other secondary or closure wastes, such as personal protective equipment and carbon filters.11 The CAC would probably 8 See http://www.cdphe.state.co.us/hm/pcdcac.htm. 9 Letter from John Klomp, chair, Colorado CAC, to PMACWA, June 29, 2005. 10 Ibid. 11 Letter from Irene L. Kornelly, chair, Colorado CAC, to Peter Lederman, committee chair, February 12, 2008.
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Review of Secondary Waste Disposal Planning for the Blue Grass and Pueblo Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plants apply the same principles that it has applied to dunnage, metals, and energetics. That is, communities near PCD want assurances that materials are not contaminated with mustard agent before being shipped offsite for reuse or disposal. Issues Specific to the Treatment of PCAPP Hydrolysates The CAC and other active members of the Pueblo community have repeatedly opposed the offsite shipment of agent hydrolysate for treatment and disposal. They view biotreatment as a proven, reliable technology and consider any transportation of agent hydrolysate to be inherently more risky than keeping it onsite for further treatment. On January 31, 2007, the CAC endorsed the following recommendation of its Design Options Working Group (DOWG): The Design Options Working Group recommends to the CO CAC that the CO CAC affirm its position that on-site treatment of hydrolysate be conducted at PCAPP and that off-site treatment of hydrolysate be rejected. This decision is based, in part, on review of the financial analysis presented to the CO CAC at the December 8, 2006 meeting and review of the recently released Mitretek and Lean-Six-Sigma reports.12 That is, the CAC doubted that offsite treatment would save time or money, but it left the door open should new evidence emerge. In its February 2007 letter transmitting the above resolution to the ACWA leadership, it said that “as always, the CO CAC and the DOWG are open to reviewing this decision if new information on hydrolysate transportation is made available to the public.”13 Opposition around Pueblo to the shipment of agent hydrolysate is based on essentially the same arguments as the opposition at Blue Grass (see earlier section “Issues Specific to the Treatment of BGCAPP Hydrolysates”). But the Pueblo opponents openly make an argument supported by the two studies mentioned in the January 31, 2007, resolution—namely, that anticipated opposition to offsite shipment will make it impossible to save money. Although the Army informed the CAC that $150 million might be saved if the Pueblo agent hydrolysate were shipped offsite, the CAC replied that the projected savings ignored “risk factors such as community opposition and permitting delays to name just two possible risks.”14 Put another way, community members oppose this scenario because some of the community members might oppose it, causing delays and cost increases. Because offsite treatment would require a permit modification and a new Pueblo County certification of designation, opponents could indeed delay any such change. As in Kentucky, opponents of offsite shipment and disposal are clearly prepared to utilize political and regulatory strategies to prevent or at least delay offsite hydrolysate disposal. Chapter 6 describes the additional permitting and environmental assessment requirements that would be triggered by a decision to ship hydrolysate offsite. While there is active community opposition to offsite shipment of agent-contaminated hydrolysate, most parties agree that the community at large is more concerned about the continuing presence of chemical weapons in the area. The local daily newspaper, the Pueblo Chieftain, represented this sentiment in an editorial applauding the President’s fiscal year 2009 proposal to boost ACWA funding: “This project has been delayed far too long. It’s time to stop the foot-dragging and get rid of these aging munitions” (Chieftain, 2008). UNDERLYING FACTORS IN BOTH COMMUNITIES The committee believes that the dominant community point of view—opposition to offsite hydrolysate treatment—in both Kentucky and Colorado is a function of four principal considerations: In the early 1990s, community groups in stockpile host communities agreed not to support shipment to other communities. This was in part a strategic decision. The groups who formed the CWWG, some of whom had previously espoused a not-in-my-back-yard philosophy, found that their alliance amplified their political effectiveness at the national level. The belief that hydrolysate may contain levels of chemical agent that are too hazardous to transport safely. Some community members expressed concern that the Army and its contractors do not yet have adequate methods for sampling and analyzing hydrolysate in transportation containers. The understanding that ACWA had committed to onsite hydrolysate treatment when it signed the records of decision for the two sites in 2002 (Pueblo) and 2003 (Blue Grass). Community members are dismayed and believe that the offsite option keeps coming up because DOD has already decided to implement it. The concern that offsite treatment of agent-contaminated wastes (even at low levels) may take place in economically depressed communities that call for environmental justice because they already may be disproportionately exposed to environmental hazards and in many cases lack the resources and expertise to challenge such a decision. Critics of offsite hydrolysate disposal have firmed up their opposition in response to the shipment of hydrolysate from the Newport Chemical Depot. After public opposition caused treatment facilities in Ohio and New Jersey to reject 12 Letter from John Klomp, chair, Colorado CAC, to Michael Parker, director, CMA, February 14, 2007. 13 Ibid. 14 Ibid.
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Review of Secondary Waste Disposal Planning for the Blue Grass and Pueblo Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plants such shipments, the Army shipped the waste to Port Arthur, Texas, without announcing it to the general public, although the shipments were coordinated through agencies of the affected states. Opponents of offsite hydrolysate disposal vow to prevent a similar result at Blue Grass and Pueblo. FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS Finding 5-1. Through the Kentucky Chemical Demilitarization Citizens’ Advisory Commission (CAC) and the CAC’s subsidiary Chemical Destruction Community Advisory Board, as well as public affairs activities that include the Blue Grass Chemical Stockpile Outreach Office and public meetings, the communities around the Blue Grass Army Depot (BGAD) have ample opportunity to learn about BGCAPP operations as well as proposed secondary waste disposal. The ACWA program and its contractors do an effective job of cooperating with and supporting these organizations. Finding 5-2. Through the Colorado Chemical Demilitarization Citizens’ Advisory Commission, as well as a public affairs program that includes the Pueblo Chemical Stockpile Outreach Office and its field activities, the communities around Pueblo Chemical Depot have ample opportunity to learn about PCAPP operations as well as proposed secondary waste disposal. The ACWA program and its contractors do an effective job of cooperating with and supporting these organizations. Finding 5-3. Communities that might be affected by the transportation and offsite disposal of secondary and closure waste do not at present have an official forum through which they can interact with the ACWA program. Finding 5-4. Members of the communities around the Blue Grass Army Depot and the Pueblo Chemical Depot have not expressed serious concern about the disposition of secondary wastes other than hydrolysate from BGCAPP and PCAPP. However, they want technical assurance that the materials are not contaminated with agent, as defined by the minimum detection level, before being transported offsite for reuse or disposal. Finding 5-5. There is substantial local opposition to offsite shipment and disposal of hydrolysate from both BGCAPP and PCAPP. Local groups can be expected to forestall any such action by protracting the permitting process or the environmental review (if there is one) as well as by instigating political action and litigation. Recommendation 5-1. To avoid potential misunderstandings and obstacles, the PMACWA should explain in advance, and solicit feedback on, any proposals to ship wastes from BGCAPP and PCAPP. Special efforts should be made to include a diverse representation of the stakeholder communities. Recommendation 5-2. The PMACWA should explain to the public precisely how it plans to determine whether a particular waste stream is suitable for shipment, including analytical procedures for showing whether the stream contains any residual contamination by an agent or its by-products. Recommendation 5-3. The PMACWA should identify and factor into its decision-making processes the potential consequences of public opposition to offsite shipment and disposal of hydrolysate. Recommendation 5-4. Before making any final decision, the PMACWA should consider expanding its public forum to represent key stakeholder communities as it considers the possible offsite shipment of hydrolysate from the primary neutralization of agent.