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10 Public Acceptance of Alternative Technologies INTRODUCTION The Army's past failure to obtain broad public ac- ceptance for its selected systems for the disposal of chemical weapons has contributed significantly to the schedule delays and cost increases in the baseline chemical weapons demilitarization program. Recogniz- ing that public acceptance is critical to completing the destruction of chemical weapons, the Army's ACWA program has incorporated two innovations. The first is a public involvement process, the Dialogue on As- sembled Chemical Weapons Assessment (hereinafter called the Dialogue). The Dialogue, facilitated by The Keystone Center, brings together a broad range of stakeholders to achieve consensus on methods for se- lecting and demonstrating alternative technologies for the destruction of chemical weapons. The second is the decision to identify and demonstrate at least two alter- native technologies that may address the objections that have been raised most frequently by interest groups and the public. This committee was asked to "gather data and ana- lyze information on stakeholder interests at the as- sembled chemical weapons storage site locations..." to help the Army assess the prospects for public accep- tance of alternative technologies. The committee gath- ered data from the following sources: · attendance at public meetings in Richmond, Ken- tucky; Anniston, Alabama; and Pueblo, Colorado · private discussions with residents and concerned citizens who attended the public meetings · attendance at meetings of the Dialogue held dur- ing the preparation of this report · private discussions with participants in the Dia- logue · interviews with Keystone facilitators · discussions with state regulators in Colorado, Ken- tucky, and Utah · briefings by DOD officials and managers Analyzing the information proved to be a complex undertaking for a number of reasons. First, the com- mittee needed to address the problematic term of "ac- ceptance." Does it imply only tolerance, or does it mean affirmative acceptance? Is a broad public consensus necessary, or will a majority suffice? The task also re- quired that the committee consider the diverse mean- ings of the term "the public" in the context of public policy. The term can be variously defined in terms of geography, level of interest or involvement in the policy debate, and policy preference. Some groups have conflicting opinions about the acceptability of al- ternative technologies. Which of these "publics" should be considered? The conventional use of the term "stakeholder" helps only a little, as all Americans have a stake in the safe and efficient disposal of chemical weapons. Second, very little systematic and reliable data are available on public reactions to any of the al- ternative technologies. Some of them are too new to have attracted widespread public attention, but even public perspectives on the technologies that are already being used for chemical demilitarization have rarely been systematically measured. Third, the acceptance of any proposed solution to a highly controversial policy issue of the kind considered here is likely to be affected as much (if not more) by the processes of 156
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PUBLIC ACCEPTANCE OF ALTERNATIVE TECHNOLOGIES public involvement as by the technological character- istics of the proposed solution. Therefore, for the com- mittee to assess public acceptance of the alternative technologies, the processes of public involvement in the selection of the alternative technologies had to be investigated first. For these reasons, the discussion of public accep- tance in this chapter does not follow the technology- by-technology approach used in the preceding chap- ters. Instead, this chapter begins with a brief overview of the processes by which public views of controver- sial policy options tend to be shaped and the role of these views in the policy-making process. The typical pattern of political debate is described, and the impli- cations for public acceptance are addressed. Second, the discussion focuses on the development of public views on incineration, the only technology for the de- struction of chemical weapons that has received broad, sustained political attention so far. The discussion in- cludes the implications of public attitudes toward incineration for the progress of the chemical-weapons destruction program, as well as procedural and techno- logical objections to the incineration of chemical weap- ons voiced by the public. Third, the committee evalu- ated the prospects for public acceptance of alternatives to incineration, focusing on the innovative process for public involvement by the ACWA program. The dis- cussion addresses how the process and the basic char- acteristics of the proposed alternative technologies are likely to influence public acceptance and the role of environmental permitting in public acceptance of alter- native technologies. The final section summarizes the committee' s findings concerning public acceptance and provides general recommendations for improving the prospects for public acceptance of alternative chemi- cal-weapons disposal technologies. THE MEANING OF PUBLIC ACCEPTANCE What does public acceptance mean in the context of the Army's efforts to destroy chemical weapons? A1- though there is broad public support for the destruction of these weapons, there are also deep disagreements iAn enormous literature demonstrates the degree to which process con- siderations, such as trust and fairness, influence acceptance. See, for ex- ample, Jenkins-Sm~th and Silva 1998; Flynn et al., 1992; arid Leiss arid Chociolko, 1994. 157 over the means of that destruction. Since the mid 1980s, a number of organized Grounds of citizens have . . ... . O O ~ been moolllzlng public opposition to the Army's use of incineration as the technology for destruction of chemi- cal agents and munitions. Some of these groups have focused on the concerns of citizens living near chemi- cal weapons storage depots, while others have broader .. . . . . .. . . . .. ,~ ... national and international objectives Smithson, 1994; Bradbury et al., 1994; NRC 1996b).2 Partly because of their efforts, public meetings to obtain citizen input have often generated vocal opposition to the Army's baseline technology, particularly to the use of high- temperature, "smokestack" technologies like incinera- tion (Bradbury et al., 1994 NRC 1 996bi. Few or~a . , ,~ ., . , · , , O mzecl groups of citizens have come forward to support incineration (although individual citizens have done so at several public meetings). While the Army has pushed ahead with the baseline incineration approach, opponents to incineration have used multiple venues, with varying degrees of success, to express their opposition and block the implementa- tion of chemical weapons incineration. Their efforts contributed to the passage in 1997 of Public Laws 104- 201 and 104-208 mandating the evaluation and testing of alternatives to incineration for the destruction of chemical weapons. These are all clear indicators that, at least among some important segments of the public, acceptance of the Army's baseline chemical weapons destruction process has proven to be elusive. Given the nature of the public debate over the de- struction of chemical weapons, how should public ac- ceptance be understood and evaluated? In general, when an issue is as complex as this one, there is no single public. The importance citizens attach to policy issues varies enormously (Krosnick, 1990). Some at- tach great importance to a particular issue and spend considerable time and resources becoming informed about it and expressing their views. Most do not. More- over, relatively few people can devote substantial at- tention and resources to more than a few public policy issues. As a result, the American public consists of . . . .. ~1- -- - many relatively small "issue-publics."3 2Many of these groups have coordinated their efforts under umbrella organizations, such as the Chemical Weapons Working Group (CWWG), to seek alternatives to incineration. 3Partly because of the segmented nature of "the public" in the United States, it is notoriously difficult to "inform" the public on policy issues,
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158 ALTERNATIVE TECHNOLOGIES FOR DEMILITARIZATION OF ASSEMBLED CHEMICAL WEAPONS Whether or not a citizen becomes consistently in- volved in an issue (i.e., becomes a member of an issue- public) depends on his or her particular interests and concerns. Proximity to a chemical weapons storage depot, for example, generates interest in the related health and safety questions. The views of concerned citizens tend to be relatively sophisticated with respect to the policy issue, resistant to change, and stable over time (Krosnick 1990; Cobb and Kuklinski 1997~. Mem- bers of issue-publics tend to be involved in the policy process, become active members of organized citizen groups, and express their views in public meetings or directly to political leaders. In most cases, they consti- tute a small fraction of the general public. Citizens who are less involved in the issue tend to acquire relatively little information about it, rely on relatively simple heuristics, or methods, of forming their opinions (Sniderman et al., 1991), and hold opin- ions that are susceptible to change depending on the framing or context of the issue (Yankelovich, 1991~. These citizens rarely participate directly in public de- bates on the issue. Nevertheless, if the issue receives significant attention in the press, public opinion can play a substantial role in shaping policy as decision makers respond to (or attempt to anticipate) broad pub- lic concerns (Page and Shapiro, 1983; Page et al., 1987; Hill and Hinton- Anders s on, 1995 ~ . RISK PERCEPTION AND POLICY DEBATES The lay public rarely has firsthand information about potential environmental and health risks. Policy de- bates on controversial issues involving perceived risks tend to take the form of competing messages about the magnitude of the risk, the performance of those charged with managing the risks, and the appropriateness of competing policy options from organized interests and the responsible public agencies. When the stakes ap- pear to be high, these messages are received and re- transmitted via the news media, where they reach less involved and less informed members of the public. Given the general propensity of people to weigh pro- spective losses more heavily than gains (Kahneman and even when the issue concerns health and safety. Furthermore, information about a specific policy issue must compete with the delude of messages that . . . bombard citizens on a daily basis. See Renn (1998) for a discussion of the information-filtering processes used by citizens. Tversky, 1984), members of the public tend to be more receptive to negative arguments (e.g., those against in- cineration) than positive ones (Cobb and Kuklinski, 1997~.4 Moreover, simple arguments with an emotion- ally charged message tend to weigh more heavily with less involved members of the public than "harder" or more complex arguments (Renn, 1998; Cobb and Kuklinski, 1997~.5 In the case of programs involving either incineration or managing chemical weapons, the issue falls within the "high dread" and "high uncer- tainty" domain of perceived risk, about which mem- bers of the public tend to be quite worried (Slovic, 1987; Krimsky and Golding, 1992; Renn,1998~. Thus, in public debates over issues for which the magnitude of the risk is an important ingredient, the playing field is tilted significantly in favor of those who argue that risks are high and who oppose the apparent risk . , . inducing program. In policy debates over risk, the level of trust of the agencies charged with carrying out the potentially risky activity weighs heavily in shaping public responses (Flynn et al., 1992; Leiss and Chociolko,1994~. In gen- eral, when all else is equal, members of the public appear to give greater credence to arguments that risks are large than to arguments that risks are small (Jenkins-Smith and Basett,1994~. Moreover, when the responsible agency is not considered very trustworthy, members of the public are increasingly prone to dis- count reassurances of safety by that agency (Jenkins- Smith and Silva, 1998~. Trust is therefore a critical in- gredient in shaping public views of the risk and acceptability of a potentially hazardous program. Another important factor is whether the public per- ceives the potential hazard to have been imposed upon them. The "voluntariness" of the risk has long been 4Some scholars dispute Kahneman and Tversky's (1984) claim that pro- spective losses will be weighed more heavily than prospective gains. For example, Cosmedes and Tooby (1994) argue that Kahneman and Tversky's results are based on the presentation of risks in probabilistic, rather than frequentist, terms. However, because the debate over the risks of incinera- tion of hazardous materials is almost universally cast in probabilistic terms (e.g., the risk of 10-6), their findings would appear to be valid in this case. 5The differences in how members and nonmembers of issue-publics re- spond to arguments may pose a dilemma for agencies charged with inform- ing the public. The members of issue-publics tend to be more responsive to more complex arguments (involving the presentation of premises from which a conclusion is derived), while less involved and less informed citi- zens may view such arguments with suspicion. Thus, acceptance from one audience may come at the expense of the acceptance of the other. See Cobb and Kuklinski (1997), pp. 115-116.
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PUBLIC ACCEPTANCE OF ALTERNATIVE TECHNOLOGIES identified as a moderating factor in perceptions of risk (Renn, 1998; Slovic, 1987~. When a prospective pro- gram is convincingly framed to the public as a poten- tial hazard that is imposed on them by outsiders (espe- cially if the outsiders are not seen as particularly trustworthy), public acceptance of the program may prove to be very hard to attain. The perception of the hazard as imposed is heightened if it appears that the responsible agency is defending an option that has been decided upon prior to engaging the community (the familiar "decide, announce, and defend" approach). Coupled with the matters of trust and perceived risk is the matter of "framing" the issue (Kahneman and Tversky, 1984~. If policy activists and the news media portray an issue as one in which a risk is posed by the destruction of the chemical weapons, then the program for destruction will be singled out as a potential threat to the community. As discussed above, this is a very simple argument (e.g., incineration poses a health threat) with negative emotive content. Such messages are likely to be persuasive with less involved, less in- formed members of the public (Cobb and Kuklinski, 1997~. If, on the other hand, the presence of the stored chemical weapons is portrayed as an ongoing threat, then the risk posed by the means of destruction con- trasts the risk of continued storage. This is a more com- plex message and is most likely to be compelling to those who are better informed about the issue and more involved in the policy process. Over the course of the debate on the incineration of chemical weapons, the framing of the issue has been a central concern. The Army has generally argued that the risks of long-term storage are significant and that risks of incineration are modest. The Army's critics have emphasized the risks of incineration while implicitly downplaying the risks of continued storage. In general then, gaining acceptance of the broader and less involved members of the public for a poten- tially hazardous activity faces an uphill battle. The population tends to be fragmented into multiple nub lies, ranging from intensely committed and engaged issue-publics to the publics and individuals who are relatively inactive, less informed, and less interested. This fragmentation significantly complicates the prob- lem. Generally, it is much more difficult to reassure these publics that a potentially hazardous facility is safe than it is to raise the alarm. If trust in the implementing 159 agency is lacking, the prospects for public acceptance are particularly low. POLITICS AS USUAL: THE INTERACTION OF POLICY DISPUTES AND PUBLIC ACCEPTANCE Public acceptance (or rejection) of chemical weap- ons disposal technologies does not occur in a vacuum. The public evaluation of alternative technologies is very likely to take place in the context of the ongoing policy debate on the disposal of chemical weapons. Therefore, the prospects for public acceptance of the alternative technologies can best be understood as part of the more general process surrounding public-policy controversies. In most policy controversies, the shaping and imple- mentation of programs involve multiple regulatory, ju- dicial, and legislative arenas. The regular participants in these debates typically include: the agencies charged with carrying out the program; regulatory oversight agencies; organized interest groups; members of the press who regularly report on the issue; and the elected and appointed public officials for whom the issue is particularly salient (Anderson, 1979; Kingdon, 1984; Sabatier and Jenkins-Smith, 1993; Jenkins-Smith and Sabatier, 1994~. In the course of the policy debate, op- ponents identify what they perceive to be problems with the proposed program and attempt to alter or block its adoption and implementation. Typically the oppo- nents attempt to persuade political decision makers and the public of both the validity and importance of their concerns and of the negative consequences of pursuing those policies. When resources are available, opponents contest the policy in visible public settings, such as public hearings and press conferences. They may also have many opportunities to challenge the policy in ad- ministrative and judicial processes at the local, state, and federal levels of government. In the case of the destruction of hazardous materials like chemical weapons, federal law allows states to complement federal requirements with more stringent regulations.6 These additions tend to require demon- strations of regulatory compliance before multiple state 6For example, provisions of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) allow states to add regulatory requirements that exceed those set forth in the federal law. See Section 6929 of Title 42 of the United State Code.
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160 ALTERNATIVE TECHNOLOGIES FOR DEMILITARIZATION OF ASSEMBLED CHEMICAL WEAPONS agencies, each of which may require a process of pub- lic involvement and administrative due nroceL~Ls.7 In a susta~nect policy controversy, each of the involved regulatory agencies provides an opportunity for oppo- nents to challenge the proposed program. If adminis- trative processes fail to generate the desired results, opponents may be able to turn to the state or federal courts.8 The net result is often a sustained period of policy debate, in the course of which the news media have ample opportunity to transmit the positions of the program's opponents and proponents. The extended policy debate both influences, and is influenced bv. Public opinion. Although research on the Interactions among the mass public and political "elites" (such as representatives of organized interest groups or government officials) is far from conclusive, the available evidence suggests a reciprocal relation- ship in which political leaders both influence, and are influenced by, the opinions of the larger public (Hill and Hinton-Andersson, 1995; Page et al., 1987; but see Hill, 1998~. Thus the extended policy debate exposes the public to the arguments of competing coalitions of agencies, interest groups, and political officials, while feedback (for example, through elections and public hearings) from segments of the public appears to influ- ence the positions of political decision makers. In short, gaining acceptance for a controversial program from the larger public cannot be decoupled from the policy debate concerning that program among active segments of the public and government agencies. . · . ,, ,. ... PUBLIC REACTION TO THE ARMY'S BASELINE CHEMICAL WEAPONS INCINERATION PROG RAM An understanding of the possible public reactions to alternative technologies for the destruction of chemical weapons can be gained by an evaluation of the Army's experience with the ongoing chemical weapons de- struction program. From the early 1900s through the 7For example, in Indiana the permitting process for the destruction of chemical weapons agent through hydrolysis requires action by the follow- ing state and federal agencies: the Indiana Waste Management Administra- tion, the Indiana Water Management Administration, the Indiana Air and Radiation Management Administration, and the regional office of the Envi- ronmental Protection Agency. Even if the court battle is lost, the delays and costs can be considerable. 1960s, chemical weapons were destroyed by burning in open pits, land burial, and ocean dumping. In 1969, a National Academy of Sciences report recommended a combination of neutralization and incineration as a means of destroying chemical weapons (NAS, 1969~. By the early 1980s, the Army had identified incinera- tion as the preferred technology. This decision was en- dorsed in a report by the National Research Council in 1984 (NRC, 1984~. The following year the U.S. Con- gress passed Public Law 99-145 requiring the destruc- tion of all U.S. chemical weapons stockpiles. The policy was further refined by an Army decision in 1988 to destroy all chemical weapons on site at the eight continental storage depots.9 This sequence of policy decisions, and the ongoing efforts to implement the chemical weapons demilitari- zation process at the eight continental depots, has pit- ted organized groups of citizens who oppose the incin- eration of chemical weapons against the Army agencies charged with their disposal.~° Opponents have argued that the Army has "consistently" attempted to imple- ment incineration before adequate testing and risk assessment were completed (Alailima et al., 1995~. Furthermore, the opponents have argued that the incin- eration of chemical weapons "presents an imminent threat to public health" through the possibility of cata- strophic failure, the release of small amounts of chemi- cal agent, and the emission of trace amounts of prod- ucts of incomplete combustion (PICs), such as dioxin (Alailima et al., 1995; Costner, 1993~. Coupled with these concerns about risk has been the contention that residents of communities near the stor- age depots have been essentially excluded from deci- sion making about the choice of the disposal technol- ogy (Alailima et al, 1995; Futrell and Davies, 1996; Bradbury et al., 1994; NRC 1996b). As proof, mem- bers of some interest groups cite the Army's use of temporary permits to begin the operational verification tests (OVT) at the Johnston Atoll Chemical Agent Dis- posal System (JACADS) and to break ground at Anniston, Alabama (GAO, 1993), in which there were 9This decision was reaffirmed in 1991 in Public Law 101-520, which prohibited the Army from studying the transport of chemical weapons. i°The list of organizations that oppose incineration of chemical weapons is long, including both local citizens groups and organizations with national and international objectives. See Alailima et al. (1995) for a partial listing of the involved groups. Also see Smithson 1994.
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PUBLIC ACCEPTANCE OF ALTERNATIVE TECHNOLOGIES no opportunities for public comment. Overall, the policy debate has been heated, involving a significant number of organized advocacy groups that have con- tested both the Army's and the NRC's findings that incineration can be a safe and effective technology for destruction of chemical weapons. The following sec- tion identifies some of the attributes of incineration that are considered objectionable by the public and oppo- nents to the technology. These attributes should be carefully considered in the selection of an alternative technology. ATTRI BUTES OF I NCI N ERATION This committee sought public input directly from citizens in the Richmond, Anniston, and Pueblo areas and collected information on public concerns from ear- lier research (Bradbury et al, 1994; NRC 1996b; Brown 1993~. None of these sources of information, however, provides a reliable or valid sample from which infer- ences can be drawn about broad public perspectives. Attendees at public hearings tend to be those who have strong feelings about an issue, while those who are less interested (or who perceive the risk to be insignificant) are less likely to attend. Nevertheless, it is possible to identify some of the persistent public concerns about chemical weapons destruction technologies: the potential for catastrophic failure and a massive release of agent into nearby communities low levels of agent escaping into the air through smokestacks, with potential for long-term chronic health effects monitoring processes that take only periodic samples of stack emissions only identify "after- the-fact" releases of agent or other toxins ("once the alarm goes off, it' s already too late") · technologies that dispose of hazardous materials at high pressures and high temperatures · the continued use of a chemical weapons destruc- tion facility for other hazardous wastes once the iiSee, for example, the charge by environmental groups that the NRC's 1993 report on alternative technologies for chemical weapons destruction is "politicized" (Defense Environment Alert, 1994). i2The Program Manager for Chemical Demilitarization is currently in the process of developing a telephone survey for eliciting systematic samples of public opinion in each of the chemical weapons storage commu- nities. Therefore, reliable information about general public views on chemi- cal weapons destruction technologies may be available in the future. 161 local chemical weapons stockpile has been destroyed · the trustworthiness of the Army to manage the chemical weapons destruction program safely concern that the Army will not fully inform the local community about problems with the chemi- cal weapons destruction, if and when they arise In general, these concerns appear to reflect the high levels of perceived risk associated with technologies that Slovic (1987) has identified as having the attributes of high dread (the worst-case outcome is catastrophic) and high uncertainty (the threat is invisible to the naked eye, the cause-effect connection to human and environmental health is not well understood, and the effects may be delayed). With respect to incineration, these fears appear to be linked to the high volumes of outputs (stack emissions) into the atmosphere that are not continuously monitored for potentially hazardous PICs that once released, cannot be reclaimed. Uncer- tainties about the characteristics of stack emissions (e.g., the full roster of PICs) and their potential long- term health effects also provide a ready basis for public concerns.~3 At the same time, the available evidence suggests that public awareness of the chemical weapons incin- eration issue may be modest, even among people who live near the chemical weapons storage depots. In a recent telephone survey of residents of communities near the Anniston Army Depot, nearly half (49 per- cent) of the respondents said they either did not know of plans to destroy chemical weapons at the depot or had heard about the destruction but were "not very well informed" (Clark, 1996~.~4 Less than a third of the sur- vey respondents had ever heard about the Alabama Citizens Advisory Commission (CAC), and only 6 out of the 500 respondents said they had ever attended a CAC meeting. Other public surveys have found simi- larly low levels of awareness. In fact, a majority of the population near some chemical weapons storage i3The anti-incineration case is often based on these characteristics of incineration. See, for example, the case against the incineration of hazard- ous materials by Greenpeace in Costner and Thornton, 1990. But also see the evaluation of the Greenpeace argument in Chrostowski and Foster (1992) and J. Cudahy (1992). i4The survey was conducted for the Alabama Chemical Demilitarization Citizens' Advisory Commission in April and May of 1996 and included residents of Calhoun and Talladega Counties. No information was provided on the survey response rate.
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162 ALTERNATIVE TECHNOLOGIES FOR DEMILITARIZATION OF ASSEMBLED CHEMICAL WEAPONS depots is unaware of the existence of the chemical weapons stockpile (Innovative Emergency Manage- ment and Rowan and Blewitt, Inc., 1995a, 1995b, 1995c, 1995,d, 1995e). Thus, despite the Army's pub- lic relations efforts and significant local opposition to incineration by organized citizens groups in the local areas, only a small fraction of the area residents are informed and involved in the policy debate (NRC, 1996b). Among the organized citizen groups involved in the chemical weapons demilitarization issue, opinions about the attributes of technologies are well developed (see, for example, Chemical Weapons Working Group, 1994~. In addition to the concerns listed above, these groups expressed a clear reluctance to support a tech- nology that does not permit the holding and testing of all effluents and emissions from the chemical weapons demilitarization process prior to release (hold-test-re- lease). This concern reflects the public perception that periodic sampling and testing of the large volumes of gas emissions characteristic of incinerators will only detect system failures after the fact, when a release has already taken place. Opportunities for meaningful input by local citizens into the process of selecting the technology is as im- portant to members of these groups (Alailima et al., 1995; Brown 1993), as is monitoring the operation of the technology during the destruction of chemical weapons (NRC 1996b). Discussions with representatives of some of the citi- zen groups that are most actively involved suggests that the following attributes are most important: · the capability of the system to hold and test efflu- ents prior to release · the "transparency" of the technological processes · the inclusion of specific plans for decommission- ing the facility and remediating the site · the capability of quickly and safely shutting down the facility i5The term "transparency" in this context refers to the characteristic of a technology that permits an informed individual to observe and have a rea- sonable understanding of what is occurring. When transparency is absent, the technology is essentially a "black box" in which the relationship be- tween input arid outputs is unknown to the observer. In the context of public acceptance, transparency pertains to the public or a trusted representative of the public. i6Among this group, concerns about temperature and pressure were of relatively low importance. PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT IN POLICY FOR CHEMICAL WEAPONS INCINERATION Concerns about incineration have led to strong and persistent opposition to the Army's efforts to move for- ward with the incineration of chemical weapons. Among the most frequently cited complaints by oppo- nents has been the Army's perceived absence of atten- tion to local concerns and the failure to provide for meaningful public input in the selection and implemen- tation of technologies for the destruction of chemical weapon (Alailima et al., 1995; Brown 1993; NRC 1996b). Historically, the most prominent mechanism for public involvement in the policy process has been public hearings on all federal programs that could have a significant environmental impact, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Opportu- nities for public input were expanded in 1992 when the Congress passed PL 102-484, which called for the es- tablishment of CACs at each of the eight continental disposal sites. 17 The nine CAC members for each site are appointed by the governors and are required to meet with a representative of the Secretary of the Army to provide "citizen and state concerns regarding the on- going program" of chemical weapons disposal. Despite these mechanisms for involvement, public outreach for the chemical weapons destruction pro- gram has been heavily criticized by outside activists (Smithson, 1 994; Futrell and Davies, 1 996; Sierra Club [Utah Chapter], 1997) by government agencies (GAO, 1991, 1993, 1997), and by agency review committees (ICE Kaiser, 1998~. Reaction to the CACs has been mixed, and the vigor with which the CACs in different states have elicited input from the local populations has varied substantially. The Army' s efforts at public in- teractions have been criticized for focusing primarily on the passive provision of information (public rela- tions). Only recently has the Army begun to seek pub- lic input about concerns at each stockpile site (public i7The call for CACs was first made federal law in the National Defense Authorization Act of 1993, which called for the Army to establish CACs in Kentucky, Alabama, and Maryland (the so-called "low volume states"). Later in 1993, the Secretary of the Army requested that the governors of these states form CACs and invited the governors of other states with chemi- cal weapons stockpiles to do the same. i8The difficulty confronted by the CACs in some states may be struc- tural. According to Brown (1993), the effectiveness of the CACs has been undercut by their relatively vague role (as defined by the federal legislation) and by the political nature of appointments to the CAC.
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PUBLIC ACCEPTANCE OF ALTERNATIVE TECHNOLOGIES outreach). Very little emphasis has been placed on in- volving the public explicitly in the decision-making process (NRC, 1996b; ICE Kaiser, 1998~. Although the Army has attempted to improve its in- teractions with the public, the perception that public concerns have been largely ignored continues to stimu- late opposition.l9 Among some opponents to the incin- eration of chemical weapons, the Army's public rela- tions approach has come to be characterized as the decide, announce, and defend approach (DAD) (or sim- ply the old way of doing business), in which the central decisions (e.g., the choice of incineration) are made prior to seeking meaningful public input. In this view, the Army' s interaction with the public consists largely of public relations efforts to justify prior decisions (Alailima et al., 1995; Brown 1993~.2° At the same time, the opponents of incineration have appeared to some observers to be unwilling to give chemical weap- ons incineration a fair hearing (Smithson, 1994; Brown, 1993) and to have made distorted claims about incin- eration that have raised unwarranted fear in communi- ties near the chemical weapons storage depots (NRC, 1996b). The result has been mutual distrust and the appearance of intractable conflict between the Army and opponents of chemical weapons incineration (Koplow, 1997~. Partly because of the problematic history of public involvement in the chemical weapons disposal deci- sions, opponents of incineration have made effective use of available policy venues for delaying and in some cases halting the Army's efforts to develop and implement baseline incineration facilities at chemical i9In part, the Army public relations programs have been hampered by confusion with the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program (CSEPP), which is responsible for planning and response to chemical stock- pile incidents. CSEPP is funded by the Army but managed jointly by the Army and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). CSEPP has been plagued by public perceptions of inadequacy (Sierra Club [Utah Chapter], 1997; GAO, 1994, 1995, 1997) and by the appearance of confu- sion regarding the local coordination of emergency response planning (NRC, 1996b). Problems with CSEPP have thus spilled over and generated the perception that the chemical weapons disposal program pays inadequate attention to local concerns and conditions at the stockpile sites. 20The perception by critics that the Army uses the DAD approach has been reinforced by Army responses to "whistle-blower" employees at the Tooele and Johnston Atoll facilities. Claims of safety failures and cost over- runs by Steve Jones and Charles Oughton received substantial national media attention but were largely dismissed by the Army. Cntics charge that the Army' s failure to respond to problems identified by employees at Army facilities confirms that the Army will not listen seriously to citizens' concerns (Koplow, 1997). 163 weapons storage sites.21 Challenges in the courts have been frequent, both in state and federal jurisdictions.22 In addition, opponents of incineration have success- fully appealed to the legislatures in Kentucky and Indi- ana to raise the environmental requirements for per- mitting incinerators that would burn chemical weapons. In Kentucky (Kentucky 1988 Ky. Acts ch. 86, sec.1.) the requirement states: The applicant shall affirmatively demonstrate, and the cabinet shall find prior to issuance, conditional issuance, or denial of the permit, that: The proposed treatment or destruction technology has been fully proven in an operational facility of scale, con- figuration, and throughput comparable to the proposed facility, for a period of time sufficient to provide consis- tent assurance of destruction or neutralization at an effi- ciency of ninety-nine and nine thousand, nine hundred, and ninety-nine ten thousandths percent (99.9999%) for each substance proposed to be treated or destroyed, with the efficiency to be demonstrated as achievable during the design life of the facility under all operating condi- tions including during the occurrence of malfunctions, upsets, or unplanned shutdowns. Indiana has similar requirements (Indiana 1996 IC 13- 22-3-9 and IC 13-22-3-10) but has added the following stipulation: That monitoring data from a comparable hazardous waste facility demonstrates that there are no emissions from the comparable facility that alone or in combination with an- other substance present a risk of any of the following: A. An acute or chronic human health effect B. An adverse environmental effect At best, these requirements would be difficult to meet and may be impossible to demonstrate given the time constraints imposed by the CWC. At a minimum, these requirements will pose formidable hurdles in the permitting process for prospective chemical weapons treatment or disposal technologies. Complicating the 2iThe failure to develop meaningful and successful public participation can be particularly damaging when there appear to be competing expert views on the issue (Brown 1993). In the case of chemical weapons incinera- tion, opponents have marshaled a number of technical criticisms of the baseline incineration (e.g., Costner and Thornton, 1990; Costner, 1994; Si- erra Club, 1994). Thus, to those skeptical of incineration, technical support for the Army's position appears to be merely one side in an "advocacy science" debate. 22US District Court-District of Utah #2:96 CV 0425C; Utah State Agency Action EPA ID# UT 521009002; Oregon Circuit Court, County of Multnomah #9708-06159; Alabama Circuit Court, County of Montgomery #CV 98 2082; Alabama State Agency Action, Docket #97-17.
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164 ALTERNATIVE TECHNOLOGIES FOR DEMILITARIZATION OF ASSEMBLED CHEMICAL WEAPONS TABLE 10-1 Schedule Slippages of Chemical Weapons Demilitarization Estimated Date for Completion of Operations Location 1988a 1 992b 1998C Utah Alabama Oregon Arkansas Colorado Kentucky Maryland Indiana 1994 1993 1993 1994 1993 1992 1993 1993 2000 2000 2000 2000 2000 2000 1999 1999 2003 2005 2005 2006 2007 2007 2004 2004 aU.S. Army, 1988. bOTA, 1992. CArthur Andersen, 1998. process is that, in order to obtain permits to build and operate demilitarization facilities, the Army and its contractors will have to meet the regulatory require- ments of multiple state and federal agencies. These in- clude state agencies governing different media (air, water, and land), waste-management divisions of agen- cies governing different media, regional federal agen- cies, and emergency-management agencies. In addi- tion, the concerns of Indian nations will have to be considered (e.g., at the Umatilla, Oregon, depot). The complexity of meeting requirements of multiple regu- latory agencies is compounded because there may be multiple permits having jurisdiction over the chemical weapons.23 Each step in the process provides another potential forum for challenging, litigating, or otherwise slowing the Army's efforts to bring a baseline incin- erator on line. Although other factors have been involved, the ef- forts of opponents of incineration have contributed to both delays and cost increases in chemical weapons demilitarization. Table 10-1 shows the changes in the schedule for chemical weapons disposal from 1985 to 1995. In 1985, it was anticipated that demilitarization would be completed by the end of 1994. A decade later, in 1995, the expectation was that the last chemical weapons would be destroyed by 2004. More recent es- timates are even less optimistic (Arthur Anderson, 1998). 23In Utah, three permits are required: a storage permut, the facility incin- eration permit for the Tooele facility, and the research arid development permit for the nearby chemical agent munition disposal system. Schedule delays, changes due to technology de- velopment, litigation, and demanding permitting re- quirements are expensive, and the expected costs of chemical weapons demilitarization have risen sub- stantially. As shown in Table 10-2, from 1985 to 1996, the expected costs of the program rose by 729 percent. This history of schedule delays and cost increases can be partly attributed to the Army's in- ability to obtain broad public acceptance of chemi- cal weapons disposal options. PUBLIC ACCEPTANCE OF ALTERNATIVE TECH NOLOG I ES Given the history of public responses to the Army's past and present chemical weapons disposal program, gaining public acceptance of alternative technologies will face many of the same hurdles that have confronted (and continue to confront) chemical weapons incinera- tion. There will continue to be many publics, a dispro- portionate propensity of citizens to believe dire mes- sages, a legacy of distrust, and a labyrinthine regulatory process fraught with opportunities for delay. Nevertheless, the ACWA program includes two kinds of opportunities for increasing public acceptance for (or reducing opposition to) chemical weapons dis- posal. First, the ACWA program has adopted an inno- vative process for including important segments of the public in the process of identifying and evaluating al- ternative technologies. This public involvement pro- cess may well have a significant bearing on the accep- tance of the results of the ACWA process. Second, the characteristics of the alternative technologies described in the prior chapters of this report may address some of the objections most frequently raised by members of interest groups and the public. TH E DIALOG U E The ACWA initiative, as specified by Congress, cre- ated a unique opportunity for early and direct public involvement in the identification and demonstration of technologies for chemical weapons destruction. By re- quiring that the process be managed by an agency other than the Army's CSDP and that the process "identify and demonstrate not less than two alternatives to the baseline incineration process" the program was given
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PUBLIC ACCEPTANCE OF ALTERNATIVE TECHNOLOGIES TABLE 10-2 DOD's Estimated Life-Cycle Costs for Chemical Weapons Demilitarization (in $ billions) 165 Dollar ($) Increase Percentage Increase Life-Cycle Over Previous Over Previous Cumulative $ Increase Cumulative PercentageIncrease Year Cost Estimate Estimate Estimate Over 1985 Estimate Over 1985 Estimate 1985 1.7 1986 2.0 0.3 18 0.3 18 1988 3.4 1.4 70 1.7 100 1991 6.5 3.1 91 4.8 282 1992 7.9 1.4 22 6.2 365 1993 8.6 0.7 9 6.9 406 1994 10.2 1.6 19 8.5 600 1995 11.9 0.9 8 10.2 700 1996 12.4 0.5 4 10.7 729 Source: GAO, 1993, 1997 the opportunity to sidestep the political conflict that has characterized the baseline program. In essence, the ACWA program was given an independent identity from the CSDP, and ACWA officials were given the opportunity to establish a new pattern of relationships with active interest groups, regulators, and the public. The Army's ACWA program has taken advantage of this opportunity. The program has drawn on a wide range of experience to broaden the scope of public involvement in environmental decision mak- ing (Creighton and Aggens, 1996). These efforts have included attempts to include public input on potentially controversial decisions before the cen- tral policy choices were made so the concerns and preferences of members of the public could be fac- tored into the policy choices in a credible and ex- plicit manner. In that spirit, ACWA program offi- cials initiated an ambitious process, dubbed the "Dialogue on Assembled Chemical Weapons As- sessment" (hereinafter called the Dialogue), de- signed to include a broad range of participants in the process of technology selection and testing. The ini- tial design of the process, and the necessary imple- mentation of the process, were carried out by the Keystone Center, a nonprofit, neutral organization that specializes in resolving environmental and health policy disputes. The salient aspects of the · ~ ~ A ~ IOWA Dialogue process and developments are cie scribed below.24 24This brief summary is based on Keystone (documents/undated), inter- views with Keystone facilitators, observations of Dialogue meetings, and reviews of the Meeting Summaries for Dialogue meetings. Objectives of the Dialogue Process As described by Keystone, policy dialogues are "voluntary, interactive consensus-building processes that are designed to solve problems." They provide "an opportunity for a diverse set of individuals with differ- ent interests, perspectives, and expertise to meet face- to-face and work toward consensus solutions" (Key- stone Center, undated). ACWA program officials have used this process in an attempt to achieve consensus on methods for selecting and demonstrating alternative technologies for chemical weapons destruction. Given the very aggressive schedule required under the provi- sions of the CWC, ACWA hoped that the Dialogue process would result in consensus or at least reduce conflict among interest groups, regulatory agencies, and the Army on the identification and demonstration of alternative chemical weapons disposal technologies and reduce political, legal, and regulatory obstacles to demonstrating and, perhaps, implementing alternative technologies for chemical weapons destruction. The Dialogue process was initiated to diminish the kinds of conflict, delays, and budget increases that have plagued the baseline incineration program. Selection of Dialogue Participants The Dialogue process is intended to provide an op- portunity for discussion and consensus-building among representatives of groups and agencies involved in the policy process for the disposal of chemical weapons. Keystone facilitators attempted to ensure that (1) par- ticipants had diverse perspectives on chemical weapons
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166 ALTERNATIVE TECHNOLOGIES FOR DEMILITARIZATION OF ASSEMBLED CHEMICAL WEAPONS TABLE 10-3 List of Participants in the Dialogue on Assembled Chemical Weapons Assessment as of July 10, 1998 Pua'Ena Burgess Pacific and Asia Council of Indigenous Peoples David Christian Serving Alabama's Future Environment Daniel Clanton Arkansas Dept. of Pollution Control and Environment Ralph Collins Kentucky Dept. for Environmental Protection Elizabeth Cotsworth U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Dennis Downs Utah Dept. of Environmental Quality Pamela Ferguson State of Indiana Wm. Gerald Hardy Alabama Dept. of Environmental Management Douglas Hindman Kentucky Citizens' Advisory Committee Worley Johnson Kentucky Citizens' Advisory Committee Karyn Jones Oregon GASP Cindy King Utah Chapter Sierra Club Irene Kornelly Colorado Office of Business Development Thomas Linson Indiana Dept. of Environmental Management Terry Mabrey Pueblo Chemical Depot Brett McKnight Oregon Dept. of Environmental Quality Sara Morgan Citizens Against Incineration at Newport Jodie Neely Blue Grass Army Depot John Nunn Maryland Citizens' Advisory Commission Bob Palzer Sierra Club Air Committee Michael Parker Assembled Chemical Weapons Assessment William Pehlivanian Assembled Chemical Weapons Assessment Theodore Prociv Department of Defense (Chemical Demilitarization) George Smith Alabama Citizens' Advisory Commission Wesley Stites Arkansas Citizens' Advisory Commission Wayne Thomas Oregon Dept. of Environmental Quality J. Ross Vincent Colorado Citizens' Advisory Commission Paul Walker Global Green USA Legacy Program J.R. Wilkinson Confederated Tribes of Umatilla Craig Williams Chemical Weapons Working Group Suzanne Winters State of Utah Office of Planning and Budget Evelyn Yates Pine Bluff for Safe Disposal destruction technologies, (2) all of the recognized "key parties-at-interest" in the chemical weapons disposal debate were included, and (3) participants were willing to engage in the Dialogue process to seek consensus on the selection and demonstration of alternative technolo- gies. The selected participants were drawn from a num- ber of organizations, including CACs (members and former members), public interest groups (some of which are opposed to incineration), and officials from state and federal regulatory agencies that will be in- volved in the permitting and oversight of the facilities. Keystone tried to maintain a balance between a man- ageable-sized group and the inclusion of all current participants in the policy debates from each stockpile site.25 The list of participants as of July 1998 and their group affiliations are shown in Table 10-3. 25Keystone facilitators consulted with Army representatives, CAC mem- bers, and representatives of prominent public interest groups to compile an initial list of potential participants. As the list of participants was assembled, From the committee's observation of the Dialogue group, it was evident that a wide range of perspectives was represented. Participants ranged from those who had been actively seeking alternatives to the incinera- tion of chemical weapons to those who perceived in- cineration as the most efficacious and safe way to de- stroy chemical weapons. Incentives to Participate A key challenge for public involvement processes like the Dialogue is to provide sufficient incentives for those involved in the policy debate to invest the time each new member was asked to indicate whether all relevant policy partici- pants had been included. Additions were made until Dialogue members could not identify additional participants who were willing to join. Discus- sions with Dialogue members indicated general agreement that all relevant participants were included in the final list.
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PUBLIC ACCEPTANCE OF ALTERNATIVE TECHNOLOGIES and energy to seek consensus with other participants who may hold opposing policy views. On both counts, the costs can be very high.26 A willingness to enter the Dialogue process is based on the determination by all participants (including ACWA officials) that a "nego- tiated agreement" among the participants on alterna- tives to incineration would more effective than any one participant trying to influence the policy decision,27 often referred to as a BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement). As long as the BATNA was considered less desirable than a negotiated agreement through the Dialogue, members (and the Army's ACWA program officials) had sufficient incentives to participate. The ACWA program has played a critical role in generating the trust necessary for the Dialogue process to proceed. For some Dialogue participants (such as representatives of groups that had been involved in pro- tracted conflicts with the Army's CSDP over the baseline incineration program), trust in the Army was badly eroded. In an attempt to reestablish trust, ACWA officials have repeatedly expressed their commitment to the process,28 provided resources for technical sup- port to the Dialogue, and (as described below) given the Dialogue group a direct role in the technology se- lection process. Throughout the period that this com- mittee observed the Dialogue process, participants in- dicated that the prospects of the outcome were, in their views, superior to BATNA. 26Regular Dialogue meetings lasted for several days. None of the non- DOD participants were paid by DOD to participate in the Dialogue. Partici- pants who were state or federal employees (and, therefore, may have been paid through their regular jobs) spent a substantial amount of time away from their other responsibilities. Volunteers, primarily representatives of interest groups, were not compensated for their time. All Dialogue mem- bers committed substantial time and energy to the process. 27For the general approach underlying the Keystone' s Dialogue process, see Susskind and Cruikshank, 1987. For a more general discussion of the conditions under which negotiated solutions can be expected to succeed, see Quirk, 1989. 28Most of the early Dialogue meetings, and many later ones, included sessions by senior ACWA of ficials focused on explaining the Army's com- mitment to the Dialogue process. For example, the summary for the May 21-23, 1997, meeting included the following account of opening remarks by Michael Parker, ACWA program manager: "Parker expressed his dedi- cation to the dialogue process and stressed that he felt that the program's success lies in the Department of Defense doing business in a new way by incorporating stakeholder involvement at the onset of this program." A sub _ _ sequent statement by senior DOD official Theodore Prociv "emphasized that the [Dialogue] program is being taken very seriously..." 167 Dialogue Group Process As part of the Dialogue process, ground rules were developed and adopted for interactions within the group and interactions with the press and other outside parties. The ground rules created a process to ensure open discussions of difficult and controversial issues. Provisions called for prior notice and comment periods for news releases by participants about the Dialogue, set limits for the discussions to keep the focus on the ACWA program, and agreed that statements in meeting summaries would not be attributed to indi- vidual Dialogue members. Overall, these rules were intended to facilitate the free exchange of ideas among participants.29 One of the important problems facing the Dia- logue is the highly technical nature of the discus- sions concerning the chemistry and engineering of the alternative technologies. Some Dialogue mem- bers have technical backgrounds or can rely on tech- nical staff support, but others have little training or experience in these areas. Representatives of citizen interest groups were at a serious disadvantage. To address this problem, the ACWA program provided funding for the Dialogue to select and hire a techni- cal consultants to provide independent technical information and participate in the Dialogue over- sight of the Army's evaluation of the alternative technologies. The technical consultant primarily as- sisted the members of citizen interest groups. Another problem was the enormous commitment of time required for participants to develop an understand- ing of the alternative technologies, digest the available information about the performance of these technolo- gies, and evaluate them based on the selection criteria. In addition, participants had to sign confidentiality agreements to obtain direct access to proprietary infor- mation provided by the technology providers. Again, the problem was most acute for the representatives of citizen interest groups. To address the problem, the Dialogue formed a four-member Citizens Advisory 29Because the ACWA Dialogue is publicly funded, the ground rules had to conform with the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act. The ground rules were also subject to change over time, as agreed to by the Dialogue participants. 30The Dialogue selected SBR Technologies, Inc., of South Bend, Indiana, to provide technical support.
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168 ALTERNATIVE TECHNOLOGIES FOR DEMILITARIZATION OF ASSEMBLED CHEMICAL WEAPONS Technical Team CATTY to work directly with the Army' s technical team and report to the citizen interest groups (as well as the entire Dialogue) to ensure that the Dialogue's input was being considered. Through- out the ACWA evaluation process, the CATT con- ducted daily teleconference calls, and CATT members participated directly in ACWA review and evaluation meetings. Discussions with the citizen interest group participants in the Dialogue indicate that the CATT has increased trust that the Dialogue's input is being uti- lized as intended. 32 The Dialogue has been an integral participant in all of the major steps taken to date in the ACWA process, which are listed below: · drafting of the criteria for alternative technologies that were included in the ACWA REP (the GolNo Go criteria) the evaluation of proposed technologies to deter- mine if they met the GolNo Go criteria and CLIN 0001 awards (data-gap resolution) · identification of data gaps · evaluation of the technologies based on the data- gap resolutions and CLIN 0002 awards (develop- ment of demonstration plans) · evaluation of proposed demonstration work plans and CLIN 0003 awards (demonstration) · observation of (and feedback regarding) the set- up phases of the technology demonstrations . AS these steps indicate, the Dialogue has had ample opportunities to provide input into the selection of al- ternative technologies and to observe that their input has been seriously considered. The ACWA program has thus met the criteria for meaningful input from the Dialogue participants. In the view of the committee, the Dialogue has been a positive step toward gaining broader acceptance for alternative disposal technologies. 3iThe group is also humorously referred to as the watch-CATT. The development of the CATT was discussed at the June 16-17, 1997, meeting of the Dialogue in Lexington, Kentucky. 32The formation of the CATT also created some potential problems. The potential for CATT members to become a subgroup of "insiders" with dis- proportionate influence and access to information raised concerns both among the CATT and other Dialogue members. CATT members sought to avoid this problem by maintaining frequent two-way communications with the other Dialogue members. Dialogue Group Outreach One purpose of the Dialogue process is to ensure broad public involvement in the ACWA program's dis- cussions. The Dialogue's success depends on Dialogue members maintaining communications with the com- munities they represent and the larger public. One of the Dialogue's continuing efforts has been to encour age participants to develop and mamtaln outreach et- forts to the public, including public meetings (two of which were held jointly with this committee), mailings, and press releases. At this early stage, no reliable data are available to determine how well the Dialogue has succeeded in engaging the broader public.33 Challenges Facing the Dialogue The ACWA Dialogue is a work in progress. ACWA and the Dialogue have accomplished a great deal so far, but the most difficult tasks (including selecting al- ternative technologies) lie ahead. As the ACWA pro- cess moves forward, the Dialogue will face a number of challenges, some of which simply come with the territory (this is a controversial issue, after all). Many potential problems have been identified by the Dia- logue and ACWA officials and are the subject of ongo- ing discussions. The committee has highlighted some of the challenges below in hopes that they will be ad- dressed constructively. Scheduling Issues. The CWC deadline for chemical weapons destruction allows very little leeway for the development and testing of new technologies. Many of the proposed technologies, however, are relatively im- mature, and experience suggests that bringing them to maturity will take substantial time. If the schedule does not allow enough time for the development of promis- ing technologies (or systems of technologies), the con- sensus within the Dialogue is likely to be seriously strained. Under the terms of the CWC, a country can appeal for a five-year extension of the deadline. Mem- bers of the Dialogue disagree as to whether an appeal will be necessary or would be appropriate. Regardless 33This assessment might be facilitated by future surveys by the Program Manager for Chemical Demilitarization, which are currently in the planning stages.
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PUBLIC ACCEPTANCE OF ALTERNATIVE TECHNOLOGIES of whether an extension is sought, the issue of time for the development of alternative technologies is likely to make scheduling a contentious issue. Future Role of the Dialogue Group. In the initial stages of the ACWA process, the role of the Dialogue was relatively clear: to provide input into the process of selecting alternative technologies. As the ACWA process moves forward, it is not clear how the role of the Dialogue will evolve. If ACWA succeeds in identi- fying and demonstrating promising technologies, the Dialogue may be an invaluable help in furthering pub- lic and regulatory acceptance. Taking steps now to en- sure that the Dialogue can play a constructive part in implementing alternative technologies is an urgent task. Funding for Demonstrations. At the time of this writing, ACWA has been able to fund demonstrations of three of the six alternative technologies that received CLIN 002 awards. Limited funding at this stage has created two kinds of strain within the Dialogue. First, among opponents of incineration, the Army's inability to fund what are perceived to be promising alternatives has created a concern that the Army is not seriously interested in alternatives to incineration. Second, among proponents of incineration, the limited funding has raised fears that the resources necessary for design and construction of baseline incineration facilities may be shifted to alternative technologies. Thus, the con- strained funding situation could exacerbate policy dis- agreements and undermine the ability of the Dialogue to reach and maintain consensus. Funding for Technical Advisors. In March 1999, funding for the CATT technical advisor was nearly ex- hausted. The loss of the technical advisor would have meant that the CATT (and the nontechnically trained Dialogue members) would cease to have independent technical advice, which could have eroded the trust of some Dialogue members that technical decisions re- flect Dialogue input and increased the strain on the entire Dialogue process. Fortunately, the program man- ager for ACWA was able to identify funding for the technical advisor through September 1999. The con- structive role of the Dialogue is contingent upon how future challenges like this are met. 169 Implications of the ACWA Dialogue for Public Acceptance This discussion is limited to the implications of Dia- logue participation on public acceptance of alternatives to incineration because the implications for public ac- ceptance of the baseline incineration process may de- pend on the as yet unknown outcome of the ACWA process.34 If one or more viable alternative technolo- gies are identified through the ACWA process, and if the Dialogue concurs in that assessment, the organized interest groups that have opposed incineration in the past may well support the alternatives. One of the chief procedural objections to incineration the absence of meaningful public input will have been addressed by the Dialogue. Furthermore, representatives of several of the groups most opposed to incineration are active participants in the Dialogue.35 Support for a viable chemical weapons destruction technology by these groups would fundamentally change the pattern of politics in the chemical weapons program. First, rather than increasing the fears and op- position of the public, news media reports of former opponents to incineration who support an alternative, viable technology would be likely to assuage public concerns (Jenkins-Smith and Silva, 1998~. Second, these same groups are unlikely to mount the kinds of administrative and judicial challenges to the alterna- tive technologies that have plagued baseline incinera- tion.36 Thus, in the best of all possible outcomes- where the ACWA process identifies one or more viable 34For example, if the ACWA process does not identify a viable alterna- tive to baseline incineration, and if the Dialogue concurs with that finding, organized opposition to incineration may well decrease. Alternatively, if the Dialogue does not concur with an ACWA finding that there are no viable alternatives to incineration, organized opposition to incineration could be increased. 35This fact has led one pro-incineration member of the Dialogue to ob- ject that the Dialogue has "institutionalized a citizen lobbying group against incineration" (Robbing, 1998). 36An illustration of this effect has been the relatively speedy process of permitting for the chemical weapons destruction facilities in Aberdeen and Newport. The permit for the Aberdeen facility was expedited through a "high priority permitting process" that coordinated the actions of the four agencies required to grant permits and was completed in February 1999. According to Ed Hammerberg, chief of the Regulations and Permitting Di- vision, Indiana Hazardous Waste Management Administration, public sup- port for the use of neutralization reduced opposition and delays substan- tially. In his view, "the public wanted low pressure and low temperature, and they got it" (Hammerberg, 1998).
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170 ALTERNATIVE TECHNOLOGIES FOR DEMILITARIZATION OF ASSEMBLED CHEMICAL WEAPONS alternatives and the Dialogue agrees the ACWA Dia- logue process is likely to increase public support for an alternative technology. Nevertheless, Dialogue support for one or more al- ternative technologies certainly does not guarantee public acceptance of those technologies for chemical weapons destruction. The general conditions that make garnering public acceptance so difficult will remain, and new organized groups may arise to oppose alterna- tives to incineration.37 Moreover, strains in the Dia- logue (over scheduling, funding limits, and the role of the Dialogue) could undermine its future effective- ness. Thus, although the Dialogue has been a positive force for public acceptance, it should not be seen as a panacea for resolving the chemical weapons disposal logjam. On balance, this committee considers the Dialogue an important innovation and a critical component in the ongoing ACWA process. The committee recom- mends that support for the Dialogue be continued and . . ~ . . . A, anal A~WA give serious consideration now to the fu- ture role of the Dialogue. TECHNOLOGY ATTRIBUTES AN D PUBLIC ACCEPTANCE The committee is not aware of any reliable data on public perceptions of the acceptability of alternative technologies for chemical weapons destruction. How- ever, based on public statements from public hearings and the positions of organized interest groups, the com- mittee arrived at several general findings. First, objections to baseline incineration have cen- tered on the uncertainties associated with large volumes of emissions (gas) that are released into the atmosphere without prior testing of the entire volume to ensure that no hazardous substances are present. Therefore, any alternative technology that reduces the volume of emis- sions and facilitates testing before release will be more likely to gain public acceptance. Note that the provid- ers of all of the alternative technologies evaluated in this report have incorporated this characteristic into critical parts of their processes. However, all of the 37Note that proponents of incineration can use the same kinds of tactics in opposition to alternative technologies that have been used by opponents of incineration. alternative technologies also have emissions and/or ef- fluents that are not subjected to a hold-test-release pro- cedure. If serious opposition is mounted, all of these technologies would be vulnerable to the same kinds of challenges that have been raised about baseline incin- eration. Second, if the characteristics of the alternative tech- nology are sufficiently similar to those of incineration, they might be confused with incineration, and public acceptance may be affected. This is particularly likely if an issue-public perceives the alternative as incinera- tion under another guise. If these similarities are present, the uphill battle for public acceptance will be- come notably steeper. In the committee's judgment, the plasma-arc-based technology is most vulnerable to this kind of confusion. Third, the "unknown risks" associated with chemi- cal weapons destruction for all technologies have a common technical source. For baseline incineration, the perceived unknown risk is that the monitoring of emissions is not continuous. For example, monitoring and testing for dioxins and other trace organics (PICs) tends to be conducted only periodically. The existing literature (e.g., Costner and Thornton, 1990; Costner 1994) and discussions with citizen activists indicate that this concern is the underlying reason for calls for technologies with hold-test-release systems. Given that none of the technologies evaluated in this report can fully implement this strategy, addressing the risk will require that continuous monitoring be used to ensure that the entire system is operating as required. This principle of "continuous performance assur- ance" is applicable to all chemical weapons destruc- tion technologies. Public acceptance of any alternative technology will be enhanced if it can be demonstrated that it is more amenable to continuous performance assurance than its technological rivals, including incin- eration. Bv the same token failure to demonstrate that , , continuous performance assurance will make any tech- nology package vulnerable to the same kinds of objec- tions that have been raised about incineration. Fourth, the unknown risks associated with chemical weapons destruction have an important social aspect. As discussed earlier in this chapter, trust is a crucial ingredient in the broad acceptance of potentially hazardous programs. If the affected communities do not trust the Army or its contractors, even the best
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PUBLIC ACCEPTANCE OF ALTERNATIVE TECHNOLOGIES monitoring and testing technology will not allay public fears or generate public acceptance. In these circum- stances, public acceptance may require continuouspub- lic monitoring of the chemical weapons destruction process, regardless of the technology. In other words, providing members of the public (or their representa- tives) with access to real-time monitoring data and es- tablishing clear protocols for responding to emission violations can reassure the public that a technology is operating safely.38 In the presence of significant distrust, meaningful public monitoring of real-time data could be facilitated in several ways. First, providing for community repre- sentation on a public monitoring team may assure the community that its interests are fully represented in the monitoring process. The options for providing 38Public monitoring will be more meaningful if the system of technolo- gies is relatively transparent to a lay observer so that an observer can "make sense" of the process. 171 community representation vary depending on the affected community, but they could include (1) having political representatives of the community (e.g., mayors or county commissioners) name representatives to the monitoring team; (2) having organized citizens groups name representatives; or (3) a combination of the above (like the Dialogue itself). Second, public confidence in monitoring may require that independent expert ob- servers be available for the nontechnical members of the monitoring team. Funding for these experts by DOD could facilitate access to independent observers responsive to the community (or its representatives). This arrangement would impose financial and admin- istrative costs on DOD, but it would reassure the af- fected public in the face of deep-seated fears and a lack of trust in program managers. Although continuous public monitoring may not be necessary or appropriate in all cases, it may be necessary for public acceptance in the communities that are most distrustful of the Army's chemical weapons disposal program.
Representative terms from entire chapter: