Turner asks Army to rethink VX plan;
Disposal of nerve agent byproduct in area under fire

April 11, 2003

Jim Bebbington, Dayton Daily News

JEFFERSON TWP -- U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, is asking the Army to listen to residents who oppose a company's plans to dispose of a byproduct of the neutralization of VX nerve agent.

Turner, in a letter to the Army's assistant secretary for acquisition, logistics and technology, pointed out that a contract for the disposal of Army nerve agent by Perma-Fix Environmental Services Inc. of Jefferson Twp. requires the company to maintain public support for the efforts.

But Perma-Fix has not met that criterion, Turner said.

Jefferson Twp.'s board of trustees and the Trotwood City Council have voted to oppose Perma-Fix's plan to truck hydrolysate, a byproduct of the VX neutralization, from Newport, Ind., to its Jefferson Twp. plant beginning in October.

Perma-Fix would treat it and release the byproduct, which a company spokesman said would be similar to salt water, into the Montgomery County waste treatment system.

"I request that the Army honor the will of the Jefferson Township Board of Trustees, and that of other local jurisdictions, who I expect will take similar action in the coming days," Turner wrote to Assistant Secretary Claude Bolton.

The congressman's office released the letter Thursday. The Army has to destroy its chemical weapons stockpile by 2007, according to the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention.

Project manager Tom Trebonik said the company is trying to gain public support.

"We've held one information open house in January, we've developed information for people here and in adjacent areas, we've supported establishment of a citizens' advisory panel to focus efforts of people who have interest in this project," Trebonik said.

He fielded questions Thursday night at a community meeting and panel discussion at Jefferson Twp. High School, which was attended by more than 100 people.

Several officials from area health agencies were in attendance, as well as state Sen. Tom Roberts, and Democratic Reps. Fred Strahorn and Dixie Allen of Dayton. Allen lives in Jefferson Twp.

Kevin Flamm, a representative from the Army's Newport Chemical Weapons facility in Indiana, said the Army would send a formal response to Turner's letter.

Turner, speaking Thursday night from Washington, said the Army's response is key because "it will give us a road map for what we need to do to affect this project."

During the meeting at the school, township Trustee Ed Ramsey was clear about the issue of public acceptance of the project.

"If the citizens don't want it, that should be enough," Ramsey said. "If people don't want it, just don't bring it here," he continued, to a standing ovation.

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