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Tri-City Herald: Oregon Commission Reopens Public Testimony on Waste

January 08, 2008
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By TRI-CITY HERALD STAFF

In response to a lawsuit, the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission voted Tuesday to reopen public comment on the disposal of secondary waste from the destruction of aging chemical weapons stored at the Umatilla Chemical Depot near Hermiston.

The waste includes plastic protective suits used by workers and contaminated carbon filters from the incinerators used to destroy the stockpile of Cold War chemical weapons at the Army depot in Eastern Oregon.

The Government Accountability Project, based in Washington, D.C., won a ruling in April in Multnomah County Circuit Court in Portland ordering the state to review the "best available technology" for disposing of secondary waste.

The depot has already destroyed GB-sarin nerve agent and is working on a stockpile of VX nerve gas weapons before turning to 2,635 one-ton containers of mustard gas.

First used during World War I, mustard gas causes severe blisters and internal and external bleeding. It also contains highly toxic mercury.

The commission vote also committed the state to completing best available technology determinations for the pollution filtration system and the mustard blister agent by August 2008.

Commission Chairwoman Lynn Hampton said the vote "reflects the commission's desire to be as inclusive as possible and to ensure complete citizen involvement and participation."

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