August 20, 2009
The Army has been approved by a U.S. District judge to go forward with its plans to incinerate World War II-era chemical weapons, dealing a huge blow to the 20 citizens’ groups that opposed the incineration in a lawsuit. Craig Williams’s Chemical Weapons Working Group was the plaintiff in the case against the U.S. Department of Defense. The incineration plans stem from a 1993 order by Congress for the Army to dispose of certain chemical weapons stockpiles in order to comply with an international treaty.
Williams, a 2006 Goldman Prize recipient, argues that the weapons contain chemicals, such as sarin and mustard, that when burned, pose significant risks to populations and ecosystems nearby. The lawsuit he helped initiate sought to require the Army to run additional tests on safety, as well as alternatives to incineration, such as chemical neutralization. The Army, however, countered that neutralization works only for chemical agents, themselves, not including the housings that would continue to pose a threat. Though the Army has conducted safety tests, the lawsuit asserts that the tests are outdated.
The plaintiffs are said to be considering an appeal to this judgment.
Army Wins Court Approval to Burn Chemical Weapons [Bloomberg News]