Jul 20, 2007

Environmental Groups Await Decision on VX Shipments

Environmental groups opposed to the incineration VX nerve gas wastewater at a Texas facility are waiting for a federal judge to make a decision in terms of making the U.S. Army permanently stop shipments to Port Arthur, Texas.

The Southeast Texas Record reports that U.S. District Chief Judge Larry J. McKinney conducted three days of hearings July 16-18 in the Southern District of Indiana over a lawsuit against Veolia Environmental Services and the U.S. Department of the Army in regards to the incineration of wastewater from neutralized VX gas at Veolia's Port Arthur facility.

Veolia currently has a federal contract of $49 to destroy about two million gallons of the wastewater.

The VX nerve gas is first turned into wastewater at the Newport Chemical Agent Disposal Facility in Newport, Ind. At this point, the wastewater is tested for any activity before being shipped to Texas. After arriving at Veolia in Port Arthur, the hydrolysate is compressed out of tanker trucks with nitrogen into holding tanks. Next it is mixed with water and other low toxicity chemicals to create a blend before incineration.

The Southeast Texas Record reports that Veolia and the Army say the water is caustic, but does not pose a threat to public health or safety.

An environmental group in Port Arthur, The Community In-Power Development Organization, is upset that no one had been warned that the material was being brought to the area. On May 8, CIDA, The Sierra Club, the Chemical Weapons Working Group, Citizens Against Incineration at Newport and a few other groups requested an injunction to stop the shipments.

The shipments were stopped at that point, and will not resume until Judge McKinney makes a decision.

The Southeast Texas Record reports that Texas community leaders support the Veolia project as it brings millions of tax dollars to the area.