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Disposal of Chemical Agent Identification Sets: Review of the Army Non-Stockpile Chemical Material Disposal Program 3 Issues to Consider The committee developed a list of issues to be considered in evaluating CAIS disposal alternatives. The issues were organized under six headings: technology; laws and regulations; costs; environmental impacts, worker/public safety, and risks; public involvement; and programmatic aspects. TECHNOLOGY The major technical challenge is to establish that a disposal process can destroy chemical agents safely, reliably, and effectively and that the destruction products can be disposed of safely, reliably, and effectively. Process Reliability and Effectiveness Any CAIS disposal method must demonstrate the capability of (1) destroying chemical agents to treaty and regulatory standards; (2) operating safely and effectively with varying agent feed rates and under nonroutine conditions, such as might occur during a power failure or severe weather; (3) handling a variety of chemical agents and containers, some of which may be badly deteriorated; and (4) decontaminating or destroying the agent containers. Technical Maturity of the Process One way to minimize technical risks and development costs is to use a process that has already been used successfully and extensively. Established processes, such as the baseline incineration process for stockpile destruction or the nonincineration processes in use commercially for some industrial wastes, entail much less technical risk than processes that are still under development. Monitoring and Disposal of Process Effluents Besides the selection of an effective and reliable process, safe CAIS disposal will require monitoring and disposal of process effluents. All disposal technologies produce gaseous, liquid, and solid effluents in varying proportions. Ideally, each effluent can be
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Disposal of Chemical Agent Identification Sets: Review of the Army Non-Stockpile Chemical Material Disposal Program contained until it has been analyzed and certified safe for release into the environment. In practice, given the small scale of the CAIS disposal operations, some CAIS-derived effluents may be produced in quantities too small to be monitored effectively or efficiently in the total effluent stream(s) from a waste disposal process, but also too small to present significant hazards. For example, when an HD-containing CAIS sample is burned in a commercial incinerator, much supplemental fuel will be needed to maintain an adequate combustion temperature. The amount of HD combustion products in the stack gas will therefore be negligible. LAWS AND REGULATIONS The legal and regulatory context for the CAIS disposal problem was described in Chapter 1. In evaluating a particular disposal alternative, the mutual consistency of the existing laws, regulations, and treaties must be considered (see Box 3-1). One issue is the current classification of CAIS sets and items as chemical warfare materiel and whether they could be reclassified as a characteristic hazardous waste under RCRA (the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act). Special requirements for transporting chemical warfare materiel apply to CAIS sets and items under the current classification. A second issue is that two CAIS chemicals, sulfur mustard and lewisite, are classified as chemical warfare agents, while other CAIS chemicals are classified as industrial chemicals and hazardous waste. A third issue for CAIS disposal is that Army facilities built for the Chemical Stockpile Disposal Program are prohibited by federal law from being used to dispose of any materiel in the "non-stockpile" category, including CAIS sets, items, or chemicals. The committee believes that disposal options that require extraordinary legal or regulatory changes will encounter significant hurdles. However, the key to resolving these issues with a consistent approach that protects workers, the public, and the environment is to classify complete CAIS or items separated from CAIS as a characteristic hazardous waste under RCRA, even if some of the chemicals found in CAIS, such as HD, continue to be classified as chemical warfare agents. This approach would be consistent with historical practice in environmental regulation. For example, many wastes are classified as solid wastes, not hazardous wastes, although they contain the same chemicals as hazardous wastes. The relative amount of the hazardous constituents and the risk associated with them are the basis for the difference in classification. The same substances present at higher levels would require that the waste be classified in the more stringent category of hazardous waste. A reclassification of CAIS also makes sense from the perspective of the history of CAIS production and use. CAIS were intended to be used not as chemical weapons but as test kits for training troops to defend themselves from chemical attack. Thus, it is reasonable to regulate CAIS on the basis of the risks they pose, rather than as former chemical weapons. Federal laws and international treaties governing treatment of munitions and chemical weapons are not clear about whether CAIS must be categorized as chemical weapons and chemical warfare materiel (see Appendix D). The Army has very strictly construed the statutory scheme and classified CAIS as a lethal chemical warfare agent or chemical warfare materiel in its regulations and guidance documents. This classification brings with it prohibitions, constraints, and administrative requirements that greatly increase the cost of destroying CAIS but provide a negligible increase in safety to workers, the public, or the environment. The EPA reviewed the chemical agents found in CAIS and concluded that they have the characteristics of hazardous wastes as defined by RCRA. EPA considers the federal
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Disposal of Chemical Agent Identification Sets: Review of the Army Non-Stockpile Chemical Material Disposal Program BOX 3-1 Case Study: CAIS Recovery at the Raritan Arsenal A non-stockpile remediation action was conducted at the former Raritan Arsenal, New Jersey, from October 1995 through May 1996. Demilitarized and leaking chemical unexploded ordnance (UXO) and CAIS vials were discovered commingled at this site (DiMichele, 1999). The deteriorated and leaking UXO had contaminated more than 12 tons of soil with neat sulfur mustard and lewisite. The contaminated soil was treated on site by mixing it in a concrete mixer with a 10 percent calcium hypochlorite decontamination slurry solution for a minimum of 15 minutes. The treated soil was then packaged, shipped to a commercial disposal facility, and incinerated as hazardous waste. Because of regulatory requirements, the intact CAIS vials containing sulfur mustard or lewisite were handled very differently from the soil. Because these vials are categorized as chemical warfare materiel, they were packaged in a protective overpack by personnel from the Army's Technical Escort Unit, temporarily stored in an interim holding facility, and then shipped to the Army's facility at Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where they are currently being stored, while awaiting disposal by the RRS or an alternate disposal method. This case study demonstrates the inconsistency of the current regulatory requirements. Pure mustard agent that has leaked into the surrounding soil, which is extremely hazardous, can be treated on site and sent to a commercial hazardous waste incinerator for final disposal. CAIS in intact vials, which are by comparison easy to overpack and ship and were originally developed for use in training exercises, are subject to more stringent requirements. Had the CAIS vials been broken or leaking, the remains of the vials and the contaminated soil could have been shipped and disposed of in a commercial incinerator as hazardous waste contaminated media. If existing regulations were changed, intact CAIS sets or items could be handled in the same manner as leaking CAIS items and contaminated soil. hazardous waste disposal requirements to be appropriate for handling CAIS chemicals safely. Furthermore, the permitting process under RCRA allows location-specific and chemical-specific conditions to be developed and made legally binding. Therefore, although CAIS may be stored, disposed of, or treated at a federally permitted hazardous waste TSDF, additional permitting requirements may also be imposed because of the specific characteristics of this waste. In summary, the statutory and regulatory requirements under which CAIS are now treated as chemical warfare materiel were designed for munitions configured with agent and explosives or for large quantities of chemicals in bulk containers. The federally mandated system for cradle-to-grave handling, transport, and disposal of hazardous wastes already applies to CAIS chemicals and, in the committee's view, is a far more efficient and effective framework for CAIS disposal that would provide the same level of protection to workers, the public, and the environment. Shifting the framework controlling CAIS disposal from that of munitions and chemical weapons to one of characteristic hazardous waste under RCRA would therefore be reasonable and desirable. This shift may be feasible through a review and change in the Army's interpretation of the statutory language, or it may require clarification or amendment of that language by Congress. Besides legal and regulatory requirements, the two principal components of CAIS, sulfur mustard and lewisite, which are currently classified as chemical warfare agents, are subject to administrative controls called "surety." Surety procedures ensure the safety,
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Disposal of Chemical Agent Identification Sets: Review of the Army Non-Stockpile Chemical Material Disposal Program security, reliability, integrity, and authentication of complex, high-consequence systems, such as chemical or nuclear weapons. The position taken by both the NSCMP and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is that recovered CAIS are not subject to surety requirements. However, the current small-quantity exemption arguably does not apply to the quantities in some CAIS items, so formal clarification by the Army, perhaps through a specific exemption for recovered CAIS, would be helpful.1 COSTS CAIS disposal costs are driven by five factors: the nature of recovered CAIS (sets and/or items); who disposes of them; and where, how, and when the disposal occurs. The cost of disposing of recovered loose bottles and vials will differ from the cost of disposing of bottles and vials inside PIGs or other metallic overpacks, which will require cutting. The waste streams and disposal procedures involved will also differ and will affect costs. CAIS can be disposed of by a contractor in a commercial facility, by a contractor in a government-owned transportable facility (e.g., the R-RS), or by Army personnel in a government-owned and operated facility. Cost estimates for commercial and government-owned equipment have differed by as much as two orders of magnitude. Therefore, the identity of the party disposing of CAIS can have a significant impact on cost. If CAIS are disposed of at the location where they are recovered, costs will be incurred in bringing a disposal facility to the site and storing the items in an interim holding facility. If the items are disposed of at a permitted storage site, such as at Pine Bluff Arsenal in Arkansas, costs will be incurred in moving the CAIS items to this facility. If the CAIS are disposed of at a fixed commercial facility located away from the storage site, costs will be incurred in moving the CAIS items to the commercial facility, either from temporary storage at the recovery location or from permanent storage at a permitted site. Treatment processes include incineration, neutralization followed by either incineration or another treatment of process wastes, or alternative processes, such as thermal reduction or SCWO (supercritical water oxidation). Extended periods of storage and monitoring would be required for processes that are not currently in commercial operation. Storage following the recovery of CAIS items is allowed for only 90 days without a RCRA permit (see Appendix D). After that, the items must be moved to a permitted storage facility, imposing additional costs for transport, storage, and monitoring. Also, if on-site treatment of the CAIS items is not completed within 90 days, a RCRA permit for CAIS disposal is required. Obtaining a RCRA permit has substantial cost implications. Within these broad parameters, a large number of storage, disposal, and transport options are available. The major costs are permitting, facility modifications, transportation, processing operations, and indirect costs. 1 Army Regulation 50-6 (U.S. Army, 1995b) includes surety exemptions for small quantities of research chemical agents, including quantities of pure HD and lewisite—25.0 ml each—and dilute solutions of HD and lewisite—100 and 50 mg, respectively. These exemptions would be exceeded by a single recovered CAIS bottle of the Toxic Gas Set, which contains 103.3 or 112.5 ml of neat sulfur mustard, or by individual, dilute CAIS vials/ampoules (5 percent solutions), which contain at least 2 ml of sulfur mustard or lewisite. Typical CAIS recovery sites, which involve multiple CAIS items, would far exceed these exemptions. Reportedly, some individuals have recognized the apparent inconsistency in the surety requirements between as-produced CAIS and buried/recovered CAIS, which may be as potent as the original CAIS chemicals.
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Disposal of Chemical Agent Identification Sets: Review of the Army Non-Stockpile Chemical Material Disposal Program Permitting The costs of obtaining a RCRA permit, permits for discharging process effluents, and other permits and of complying with these permits can be considerable. Once a permit or permit modification is obtained, the costs imposed by the permit conditions can be considerable regardless of whether the CAIS are disposed of in a government or a commercial facility. Permit conditions that can affect processing costs include: (1) limitations on the processing rate for CAIS items; (2) a requirement that CAIS items be processed separately from other hazardous wastes; (3) requirements for monitoring emissions and monitoring agent; (4) requirements for reporting, which may include training plans, shutdown plans, contingency plans, quality control plans, and other documents; (5) staffing requirements, which may specify the number, skills, and training of personnel who handle CAIS items; and (6) requirements for waste disposal. For a commercial facility, the cost of obtaining a permit modification to process chemical warfare materials, such as sulfur mustard or lewisite, and the attendant publicity and impact on community relations may be strong disincentives to accepting CAIS materials. Facility Modifications The cost of modifications for commercial facilities could adversely affect a company's willingness to accept CAIS items. Modifications could include: the addition of an area for receiving and unpacking CAIS items; the installation, testing, maintenance, operation, and calibration of agent monitors; and the addition of an area for packaging CAIS wastes. These costs could be amortized for large commercial facilities. A dedicated Army facility, such as the RRS, will not require modifications. Transportation If CAIS were not classified as lethal chemical warfare agents, they could be transported by commercial firms in accordance with federal hazardous materials transportation regulations (49 CFR, Parts 100-185). The cost of transport, as well as of segregating, characterizing, and repackaging recovered CAIS items are typically borne by the commercial hazardous waste disposal firm. In addition to the federal regulations for the transport of hazardous materials, state permitting authorities may impose additional requirements, which could increase costs. As long as CAIS are classified as lethal chemical warfare agents, established transport requirements apply and a transportation plan must be developed and approved by the Department of Health and Human Services. If a transportable disposal facility, such as the RRS, is brought to the CAIS items, arrangements for transporting the facility must be made, and the logistics and costs of moving the equipment must be considered. For example, the RRS can either be driven or flown to locations where CAIS have been recovered. Transporting the RRS by air would require two C-141 transport aircraft, one for the RRS operations and utility trailers and one for transporters, a supply trailer, and a mobile analytical support laboratory. These transportation costs, as well as the cost of personnel, could be substantial and could have an impact on the Army's disposal decisions. If a commercial firm processes the CAIS items in a fixed facility, such as an incinerator, the costs of transportation to the facility are typically borne by the firm and would therefore be built into the fee charged the Army.
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Disposal of Chemical Agent Identification Sets: Review of the Army Non-Stockpile Chemical Material Disposal Program Processing Operations Once the necessary permits and arrangements have been made for CAIS disposal, substantial preprocessing, processing, and postprocessing costs could be incurred by both private entities and the Army. These costs could reduce the savings the Army expects to realize by using commercial processing facilities. The cost elements for disposal in an Army-owned, contractor-operated facility include: (1) mobilization and site preparation; (2) direct labor and overhead for disposal operations; (3) demobilization and site shutdown; (4) disposal of CAIS waste streams; and (5) utilities, materials, and supplies. For CAIS disposal using commercial facilities, operating costs depend on the quantities of CAIS materials received, the costs of waste characterization, the operator's ability to process CAIS items with other hazardous wastes rather than separately, facility preparation costs, specialized handling requirements, taxes and fees, waste stream disposal, facility decontamination (if required), and direct labor and overhead associated with CAIS disposal. Indirect Costs Indirect costs include engineering, administrative, and management support, the recovery of the costs of design and construction of the equipment, maintenance support, laboratory support, increased liability, and other items not directly related to the number of CAIS items processed. Indirect costs are factored into the costs of processing CAIS items in government-owned facilities but may not be uniformly included in estimates for commercial options. ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS, WORKER/PUBLIC SAFETY, AND RISKS Environmental Impacts The Army is in the process of preparing a programmatic environmental impact statement to address the potential effects of disposal operations, including potential accidents, on the environment, the ecosystem, and human health. The environmental effects on soil, groundwater, and air can be estimated from the properties of sulfur mustard and lewisite (see Table 3-1), the primary CAIS materials of concern in this study. The physical state and water solubility of chemicals are factors that affect their environmental impacts. The melting point of pure sulfur mustard (bis[2-chloroethyl] sulfide) is 14.4°C. Sulfur mustard has a low vapor pressure, even at room temperature, and evaporates very slowly in cold climates. It also has low solubility in water. Shaw and Cullinane (1998) have shown that sulfur mustard is absorbed into surface materials. The combination of low solubility and a tendency to be absorbed suggests that it is not very mobile in a water environment (e.g., groundwater system). Neither Great Britain nor Canada has detected sulfur mustard in groundwater under their firing ranges (Shaw and Cullinane, 1998). Sulfur mustard is also subject to hydrolysis (Shaw and Cullinane 1998). The EPA has determined that sulfur mustard reacts rapidly with water to form hydrogen sulfide and other compounds with significant toxicity, although they are less toxic than sulfur
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Disposal of Chemical Agent Identification Sets: Review of the Army Non-Stockpile Chemical Material Disposal Program TABLE 3-1 Properties of Sulfur Mustard and Lewisite Chemical Boiling Point Vapor Pressure (mm Hg @ 20°c) Vapor Density Solubility in Water Specific Gravity (@ 20°c) Freezing Point Volatility (mg/m3 @ 20°c) Lewisite 190°C 0.394 7.1 insoluble 1.89 0.1-18°C (depending on purity) 4,480 Sulfur Mustard 217°C 0.072 5.5 negligible 1.27 14.45 °C 610 mustard (Amr et al., 1998). However, dissolved sulfur mustard reacts via hydrolysis, which means that the decomposition proceeds very slowly because of its low solubility. Biodegradation of hydrolyzed sulfur mustard has been carried out during agent decontamination (Shaw and Cullinane, 1998; NRC, 1996a), which suggests that biodegradation in the environment (natural attenuation) may be possible. The solubility of pure lewisite (dichloro [2-chlorovinyl] arsine) in water is approximately the same as for sulfur mustard, but the volatility is higher. Hydrolysis in water is faster than for sulfur mustard. Although the low solubility of lewisite suggests that it would not be mobile in a water environment, its arsenic-containing hydrolysis products could present serious environmental problems if they are not immobilized by chemical or physical treatments. Under the Clean Air Act, the air emissions from the disposal of CAIS material would require a permit. The permit would specify allowable emission rates, design criteria, operating criteria, monitoring requirements, and other measures to ensure compliance with permit requirements. Worker/Public Safety Various disposal alternatives raise different safety concerns for workers and the general public. Safety issues can be related to (1) handling, identification, and repackaging operations; (2) storage and monitoring operations; (3) transportation operations; and (4) unpackaging, treatment, and waste handling operations. These safety issues can be assessed on the basis of existing workplace safety standards (see Box 3-2). The two principal CAIS chemicals of concern, sulfur mustard and lewisite, can be lethal following inhalation. Both can also be absorbed through the skin and can cause systemic effects, such as pulmonary edema, diarrhea, weakness, hypotension, and death. The effects of lewisite are more rapid in onset than those of sulfur mustard, but sulfur mustard is lethal at lower concentrations. Both are also carcinogens. Many hazardous and toxic substances are routinely disposed of by commercial incineration or other means. In Figure 3-1, the acute lethal concentrations of nitrogen mustard and other highly hazardous industrial compounds are compared with those of the chemical warfare agents GB, sulfur mustard, lewisite, and other CAIS components (cyanogen chloride and chloropicrin). The highly hazardous industrial chemicals were selected from compounds listed in the North American Emergency Response Guidebook
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Disposal of Chemical Agent Identification Sets: Review of the Army Non-Stockpile Chemical Material Disposal Program BOX 3-2 Workplace Exposure Standards Neither the Occupational Safety and Health Administration nor the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists has established workplace exposure standards for chemical warfare agents. However, workplace exposure limits developed by the Army have been independently reviewed and endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 1988). The workplace standards for chemical warfare agents and the military regulations for applying these standards are documented in Army Regulation 385-61 (U.S. Army, 1997d). The current eight-hour time-weighted average (TWA) airborne exposure limit (AEL) is 3 µg/m3 for sulfur mustard (HD) and lewisite. Although the AELs have been developed as permissible eight-hour TWAs for unmasked workers, the maximum concentrations to which workers may actually be exposed is limited to 20 percent of the AEL (0.6 µg/m3). In practice, a control room pre-alarm sounds if airborne levels reach this level. Below this concentration, workers are not required to wear masks. At airborne concentrations higher than 0.2 times the AEL, workers must put on protective equipment and respirators. At 0.7 to 0.8 times the AEL, a local alarm sounds and workers must evacuate the area. (Only emergency response personnel can be present, and they must wear a supplied-air respirator or self-contained breathing apparatus [SCBA]). Although Army Regulation 385-61 requires the use of SCBAs for workers at HD or lewisite concentrations higher than the AEL, in practice, they are not allowed to remain in areas where airborne concentrations exceed the AEL. Military experience indicates that the standards, when applied as described above, have protected workers. However, there are no data demonstrating that this would be the case if the AELs were treated as true TWAs (that is, as average air concentrations to which workers could be exposed continuously without protective garb or respirators). Thus, if commercial facilities were used for CAIS disposal, the exposure levels for donning protective clothing and gear and for evacuating contaminated areas should be equivalent to the Army's practices and standards to ensure the same level of worker safety. as requiring initial isolation distances of at least 400 feet from the source of small spills (DOT, 1996). Chlorine, a common industrial chemical, is included to provide a frame of reference. Only two of the chemicals listed, GB and hydrogen selenide, are more lethal than sulfur mustard. Lewisite is the sixth most toxic compound. Thus, the lethalities of the chemical warfare agents present in CAIS are equivalent to or greater than the lethalities of these highly hazardous industrial chemicals. (Of course, the sulfur mustard and lewisite in many types of CAIS are in dilute forms.) The lethal inhalation doses of nitrogen mustard and sulfur mustard are similar. However, sulfur mustard is more toxic than nitrogen mustard by skin exposure to vapor. These similarities in lethal concentrations, as well as in vapor concentrations that cause severe effects following inhalation (data not shown), imply that facilities licensed to dispose of nitrogen mustard are probably adequately equipped to dispose of sulfur mustard. If CAIS (or waste by-products associated with chemical neutralization of CAIS material) are reclassified as hazardous materials,2 transportation requirements would be 2 For a description of the debate over whether CAIS fall under the definition of ''lethal chemical warfare agents," see Schmauder, 1997.
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Disposal of Chemical Agent Identification Sets: Review of the Army Non-Stockpile Chemical Material Disposal Program FIGURE 3-1 Comparison of acute lethal concentrations of CAIS chemicals and some highly toxic industrial chemicals. CAIS chemicals are shown in boldface (see Tables 1-1 to 1-3 in Chapter 1 for further information). LCt Lo is the lowest tested concentration (mg/m3) that caused fatalities, multiplied by the duration of exposure in minutes. LCt 50 is the concentration (mg/m3) that killed half of the test animals, multiplied by the duration of exposure in minutes. Sources: The lethal concentration for GB is from NRC, 1997. The data for cyanogen chloride and nitrogen mustard are from U.S. Army Material Safety Data Sheets. All other data are from the RTECS database of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. set by the Hazardous Materials Regulations (49 CFR, Parts 100-185) and would not require that CAIS be transported under military controls. Consideration of technical feasibility could be incorporated in the transportation requirements through the use of established regulatory concepts such as ALARA (as low as reasonably achievable) or ALARP (as low as reasonably practicable). If CAIS components continue to be classified as lethal chemical warfare agents, they will be subject to 50 USC 1512, in which case, the Army has defined the transportation requirements (Fatz, 1997): Recovered non-stockpile CWM [chemical warfare materiel] will be overpacked in Army-approved containers that meets Department of Transportation (DOT) packaging regulations (49 CFR parts 172-178) and will be properly placarded, labeled, and manifested prior to transport off site. Off-site transport of recovered non-stockpile CWM shall be in accordance with 50 USC 1512-517. Off-site transport requires a transportation plan developed by the Program Manager for Chemical Demilitarization (PMCD), in coordination with the Commander of CBDCOM, and approved by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS). Emergency removal activities may be initiated before, but off-site transportation of recovered non-stockpile CWM is not permitted until this plan has written approval by USDHHS. Audit trails of all non-stockpile CWM transportation and receipts of such non-stockpile CWM shall be established.
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Disposal of Chemical Agent Identification Sets: Review of the Army Non-Stockpile Chemical Material Disposal Program Packaging and shipping are further discussed in the 14 April 1998 U.S. Department of Transportation Approval CA-9804018, which requires that recovered chemical warfare materiel be transported under military control (e.g., by U.S. Army Technical Escort Unit personnel). Risk Analysis Each option for CAIS disposal, including the Do Nothing or Store Indefinitely options, poses some degree of risk to the environment, the public, and workers. The activities involved in the recovery, transportation, and disposal/treatment processes pose different types and levels of risk. A variety of design features, procedures, training, and other measures can be put into place to reduce or control the risks of a particular option. The Army must consider the nature and levels of risk and the degree to which it can be controlled or reduced before selecting an option. For example, cost estimates can take design changes and control features into account. The Army's consideration of risks associated with CAIS disposal options should be comprehensive (covering all activities and types of risk), comparable (treating each option equitably), and meaningful (focusing on significant factors based on the available data). Whether the analysis is qualitative, quantitative, or a combination of the two, each option should be reviewed based on identifying and understanding the risks of each process step, examining possible risk control measures, and putting these risks into context. The uncertainties in the risk estimates should also be addressed. This risk analysis process is described in Box 3-3. PUBLIC/STAKEHOLDER INVOLVEMENT A challenge facing any Army policy for CAIS disposal is its acceptability to the public.3 A study by the NRC (1996b, p. 23), cites Fiorino's (1990) approach, under which there are "three compelling rationales" for public involvement—normative, substantive, and instrumental. The normative rationale is that a democratic government should obtain the consent of the governed; citizens have a right to be involved in decisions that affect them. The substantive rationale is that input from diverse public groups, as well as from scientific experts, can provide essential information that improves the quality of a decision. The instrumental rationale is that public involvement may decrease conflict and increase acceptance of, and trust in, governmental agency decisions. The Army's experience in the Chemical Stockpile Disposal Program, as well as other agencies' experience with hazardous waste disposal, including the evaluation of sites for nuclear waste disposal, has demonstrated the difficulty of implementing policies in the face of strong public opposition. Because public acceptability will certainly affect 3 The terms public and stakeholder, which are used interchangeably, refer to interested individuals and groups at the local and national levels, rather than the general public. Because the collection of original data on public views specific to CAIS disposal was beyond the scope of this study, the committee has heard from only a segment of the interested public and has not conducted an exhaustive survey. Although the committee's statements reflect that limited input, they are also based on the extensive experience of committee members and a body of literature, cited in the text, that documents public opposition to incineration and public views on alternative technologies. This literature indicates the types of issues the Army will have to address in its public involvement program.
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Disposal of Chemical Agent Identification Sets: Review of the Army Non-Stockpile Chemical Material Disposal Program BOX 3-3 Risk Analysis Process Identification of Hazards The critical hazards for each stage of a disposal option should be identified. That is, the process steps during recovery, initial handling, packaging, transport, storage, disposal and/or treatment, handling of waste materials, long-term storage of CAIS or process wastes, and any other CAIS-related activities should be analyzed for the hazards that may occur during both routine and nonroutine (non-normal) performance of the activities. Understanding of Risks The risks for each stage must be well understood. It is not necessary to conduct a quantitative risk assessment for each stage, but there should be some indication of how often an exposure to a hazard may occur, or how likely something is to go wrong and what would happen if it did go wrong. Failures under routine and nonroutine conditions should be thought through (e.g., flooding of the storage area, incomplete combustion, helicopter accident, agent monitors improperly calibrated). Risk-Control Measures Provisions for managing or controlling risks should be examined and risk reduction/mitigation/control measures identified, targeted at key risk factors, and well thought out in terms of feasibility and effectiveness. Risk Context The risks must be put into context. Risk measures/descriptors should be clear and meaningful to both professionals and lay people. Risk comparisons should not be overly generalized and should clearly state whether the risks refer to all possible CAIS set recoveries or to an individual recovery and have not been scaled up to address the overall problem. the viability of the Army's proposed policy, it is a key issue that must be addressed throughmeaningful public involvement that engages the public in developing solutions.4 The public, however, is not a single entity. It is composed of many publics—individuals and groups that typically have different criteria for acceptability. In assessing the relative acceptability of policy options, it is necessary to identify the particular publics involved, the issues that are important to them, their ability to influence policy, 4 The NRC recently released a report on alternative (nonincineration) technologies for destruction of assembled chemical weapons (NRC, 1999b) that highlights the problems in interpreting the term "public acceptability." The authors of that report raised questions of who constitutes the public and whether acceptance requires a broad public consensus. They noted that, in controversial programs, there is no single public and that the fragmentation into multiple publics ranging from those who are "engaged" to those who are less interested complicates the problem of gaining acceptance. They concluded that it is generally difficult to reassure these publics that a potentially hazardous facility is safe, especially when trust in the implementing agency is low. In addition, the policy review process offers active opponents of a given course of action or technical approach many opportunities to challenge it. The extended policy debate that ensues both influences and is influenced by the opinions of the multiple publics.
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Disposal of Chemical Agent Identification Sets: Review of the Army Non-Stockpile Chemical Material Disposal Program and the potential for addressing and resolving issues that could prevent or seriously delay policy disposal implementation. As described in Box 3-4, a public involvement program for CAIS should identify affected public and stakeholder groups and their key issues, assess their influence on policy, and develop effective means for resolving their key issues. An effective way for the Army to commit to such a process is through a written, publicly released plan for dialogue with stakeholders. A written plan provides several advantages over an unwritten policy: It gives stakeholders an opportunity to participate in the development and review of the plan. It fosters credibility within the Army for the public involvement program. It requires that technical staff and public involvement staff integrate their plans and activities, which is essential if the dialogue with the public is to connect into program decisions. The plan should be open to the public generally, for example, through public release and broad dissemination. The key issue affecting public acceptability of a CAIS disposal policy will be the disposal technology proposed for the primary and secondary treatment of process waste. In light of past opposition from concerned groups to incineration in general and to the incineration of chemical weapons in particular, gaining public acceptance for commercial incineration of CAIS is likely to be difficult. Opposition to the incineration of hazardous wastes emerged during the 1980s among a wide range of groups (Curlee et al., 1994; Walsh et al., 1997). Among these groups were local, grass roots groups opposed to having a hazardous waste or municipal waste incinerator in their communities; established environmental groups, such as the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, and Greenpeace; and groups opposed to the incineration of chemical weapons in particular, such as the Chemical Weapons Working Group and, in the 1990s, the Non-Stockpile Chemical Weapons Citizens Coalition. Health-related concerns about emissions and/or formation of dioxins and furans that emerged in the 1980s have expanded and now include questions about the validity of Army estimates of the toxicity of chemical agents. In addition, health and safety concerns have been reinforced by larger concerns than the choice of a disposal technology. Documented concerns include concerns about the extent of public involvement in the decision process, performance and accountability, trust, environmental justice, equity (both geographic equity and the "stigmatization" of communities where hazardous facilities are located), and the future use of facilities (Walsh et al., 1997; Hunter and Leyden, 1995; Curlee et al., 1994; Bradbury et al., 1994; and Rabe, 1994; see also Kasperson et al., 1992; and Edelstein, 1988). Concerns about transportation risks were expressed by members of the Non-Stockpile Chemical Weapons Citizens Coalition during discussions with the committee. As demonstrated in the U.S. Department of Energy's nuclear waste transportation program, concerns about transportation (and handling) risks include concerns about emergency response capabilities at the site and along proposed transportation routes. There is also a general concern and sense of unease about incineration (Hunter and Leyden, 1995). All of these public concerns indicate the difficulty the Army is likely to experience in gaining acceptance for incineration of CAIS, particularly because these concerns would score very strongly for the characteristic of dread identified by Slovic, et al. (1979) as likely to cause problems for public acceptability.
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Disposal of Chemical Agent Identification Sets: Review of the Army Non-Stockpile Chemical Material Disposal Program BOX 3-4 Assessing the Public Acceptability of CAIS Disposal Options Identify Affected Publics/Stakeholders An effective public and stakeholder involvement program requires first identifying the individuals and groups who believe they will be affected by, or are likely to take an active interest in, CAIS disposal. Among these groups are (1) those with legal, regulatory, or organizational interests (Congress, state legislators, federal and state regulators, branches of the military); (2) those with safety concerns (persons in physical proximity to a disposal or recovery site or a transportation route); (3) those with economic interests (facility owners or businesses and residents concerned about potential impacts on property values); and (4) those with philosophical and ethical concerns (environmental and peace organizations). Some stakeholders may only be interested in particular disposal options. Identify the Issues Identifying key issues of concern to various stakeholders is a prerequisite for an effective public involvement program and indicates the level of controversy and difficulties the Army may encounter in attempting to implement a particular disposal option. Assess Stakeholders Influence on Policy Stakeholders can influence policy directly through the regulatory and political processes. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and state permitting processes, which mandate that opportunities be provided for public review and comment on policy decisions, with associated opportunities for legal review, are the primary mechanisms through which stakeholders can affect policy directly. This influence can result in the imposition of additional safeguards, permit conditions, or regulatory actions that affect the cost and feasibility of policy implementation. Stakeholders can also affect policy by encouraging state and federal legislators (particularly Congress) to intervene and make changes in the law, which can have a significant, indirect impact on a disposal option by increasing costs and causing delays, hence compromising the economic viability of a proposed option. Networking and coordination among environmental groups, such as the Citizens Clearing House for Hazardous Wastes, have provided resources and advice to communities selected for the siting of unwanted facilities (Szasz, 1994). A similar role is currently being played by the Chemical Weapons Working Group and the Non-Stockpile Chemical Weapons Citizens Coalition. Resolve the Issues Although the public acceptability of a disposal alternative can only be determined by the participants, a preliminary assessment of issues and stakeholders can indicate how these issues may be resolved. There may be ways of implementing a policy that are more responsive to known stakeholder concerns, particularly by engaging stakeholders in developing potential solutions that are both technically feasible and publicly acceptable. Although the policy debate was originally focused on opposition to incineration, the focus has now shifted to the development of alternative technologies for the treatment of both primary and secondary wastes. Organized opponents of incineration believe that the federal government has a responsibility to support the development of technologies considered by these groups to be less harmful than incineration to public health (Ginsburg, 1992). NRC and Army reports have documented the opposition of various citizen groups to incineration and their preference for alternative technologies at the
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Disposal of Chemical Agent Identification Sets: Review of the Army Non-Stockpile Chemical Material Disposal Program chemical stockpile sites (NRC, 1996a; U.S. Army, 1994; Bradbury et al., 1994). For example, responses by the Stockpile Program's Citizen Advisory Commissions to an NRC report, Recommendations for the Disposal of Chemical ,Agents and Munitions (NRC, 1994a), showed that a majority preferred neutralization to incineration. Community stakeholders in Aberdeen, Maryland, and Newport, Indiana, expressed a clear preference for neutralization over incineration of stockpile chemical weapons stored at the sites near them (NRC, 1996a). Largely because of significant (albeit not unanimous) public opposition to incineration, Congress required that the Army revise its original plans to deploy incineration at all eight chemical stockpile sites in the continental United States. The Army is now developing chemical neutralization processes at both Newport and Aberdeen, where strong community support for neutralization was evidenced during the recent permitting process (Defense Environmental Alert, 1999). In addition, Congress appropriated funding for the identification and demonstration of at least two alternative technologies under the Assembled Chemical Weapons Assessment (ACWA) Program, while withholding funding for construction of incineration facilities at two other chemical stockpile sites (Blue Grass, Kentucky, and Pueblo, Colorado). An integral feature of the ACWA Program is the establishment of a facilitated dialogue that seeks to integrate the values and perspectives of communities, regulators, and other concerned parties into the process of developing criteria for assessing alternative technologies. The goal of this involvement program is to develop decisions that are publicly acceptable, as well as technically sound.5 Although the mobile RRS, which is the baseline technology for CAIS disposal, uses neutralization as the primary technology, a nonincineration technology is not yet available for the disposal of RRS process wastes. The Non-Stockpile Chemical Weapons Citizens Coalition has expressed its desire that the Army use technologies other than incineration for the treatment of secondary wastes.6 However, it is not known when nonincineration technologies will become available, and there is no consensus among stakeholders on whether it would be preferable to store the wastes in the interim or dispose of them at existing incineration facilities. PROGRAMMATIC CONSIDERATIONS Programmatic considerations that affect the choice of a disposal alternative include (1) project scheduling, (2) the availability and sources of funding, and (3) the coordination of the activities of organizations involved in the disposal program. 5 In the NRC report on ACWA (Assembled Chemical Weapons Program), the authoring committee noted that little systematic and reliable data are available on public reactions to alternatives to incineration of chemical agents (NRC, 1999b). However, that committee's discussions with the most actively involved citizen groups suggested that four attributes of a technology were most important to them: (1) the capability of the system to hold and test effluents prior to release; (2) the "transparency" of the technological process; (3) the inclusion of specific plans for decommissioning the facility and remediating the site after all of the stockpile there had been destroyed; and (4) the capability to quickly and safely shut down the facility. Similar criteria, as well as the importance of meaningful public involvement in the selection process, were also expressed by representatives of the Non-Stockpile Chemical Weapons Citizens Coalition in discussions with this committee. 6 Letter from the Non-Stockpile Chemical Weapons Citizens Coalition to Secretary of Defense William Cohen, November 13, 1998.
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Disposal of Chemical Agent Identification Sets: Review of the Army Non-Stockpile Chemical Material Disposal Program Scheduling The schedule for the destruction of recovered CAIS material is still being formulated. It will not be finalized until the methods of destruction, including viable alternatives to incineration, have been scientifically shown to pose minimal risks, and the necessary permits have been obtained. The Army estimates that using the RRS, all known CAIS items in storage and in known burial sites could be destroyed by the end of the third quarter of fiscal year 2002 (assuming there are no permitting or other delays). The disposal alternative selected will probably be expected to meet a similar disposal schedule. However, additional CAIS items are likely to be found for years to come. Funding The Army's preliminary funding projections for CAIS disposal assume that the RRS will be used for disposal and that there will be a specific number of recovery sites. Many questions have still not been answered, however. While the Army has overall responsibility for CAIS disposal, it is uncertain which costs of recovery, transport, and disposal for different disposal alternatives would be borne by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the NSCMP, or the base commander. For example, who will pay the costs of commercial disposal of CAIS items found on an active or inactive military base? Who will bear the cost of on-site storage? Who will bear the cost of CAIS transport? How will long-term CAIS recovery and disposal costs be funded? Organizations The destruction of CAIS materials will be based on choices and actions by many individuals and parties who will be both directly and indirectly involved in decisions about locating destruction sites, selecting the methods of destruction, setting schedules, and managing costs. These parties include elected officials at the federal, state, and local levels, as well as federal and state regulatory agencies. Base commanders at active installations and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at former military installations, as well as the Army's Technical Escort Unit and others, will be actively involved in the handling, transportation, storage, and disposal of CAIS. The success of the program will depend on how well the staff of the NSCMP addresses the concerns raised by these stakeholders.
Representative terms from entire chapter: