FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEENR
FRIDAY, APRIL 14, 2000(202) 514-2000
WWW.USDOJ.GOVTDD (202) 514-1888
FEDERAL COURT APPROVES WEAPONS
DESTRUCTION AT UTAH FACILITY
WASHINGTON -- A federal court today ruled that there is no risk to human health or the environment from the Army's destruction of chemical weapons at the Tooele Chemical Agent Disposal Facility near Salt Lake City.
The decision clears the path for continued operations at the facility and the prompt completion of the destruction of approximately 40% of the nation's stockpile of these weapons. The United States Army is required to destroy its stockpile of chemical weapons by 2004. The ruling by the U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City permits the continued operation of the Tooele facility and will help ensure that the Army can meet its deadline.
"The decision assures that the Army can complete the destruction of these extremely dangerous weapons in an environmentally safe manner," said Lois J. Schiffer, Assistant Attorney General for Environmental and Natural Resources.
In 1996, several groups, including the Chemical Weapons Working Group and Sierra Club, challenged the Army's decision to begin operating the incinerators. The groups claimed that destruction of the chemical agent and munitions create risks to human health and the environment in violation of several federal environmental statutes.
U.S. District Court Judge Tena Campbell rejected these claims, holding that the Army's chemical agent incinerators presented no imminent or substantial endangerment to human health. The court also held that the citizen groups failed to prove that any violations were ongoing or likely to reoccur. Finally, the court held that these groups failed to prove any violations of the Toxic Substances Control Act.
This is the third time that this court has heard challenges to the Army's Tooele facility. In 1996 and again in 1997, these citizen groups sought an immediate shutdown of the incinerator, claiming that the facility presented an imminent and substantial endangerment to human health and to the environment. Campbell rejected those claims as well.