Keeping the Chemical Fires Burning
Army Begins Burning Chemical Weapons in Alabama
To the dismay of environmentalists and many community members in Anniston, Ala., the U.S. Army on Saturday started incinerating millions of pounds of chemical weapons stored at an army depot in town, a process expected to take seven years. A federal judge cleared the way on Friday when he ruled that environmental and civil-rights groups had failed to show that the incineration posed an imminent danger. About 250,000 people live within a 30-mile radius of the plant, making it the most densely populated area where the Army has incinerated chemical weapons. A 1997 treaty requires the U.S. to destroy its chemical weapons stockpiles at eight sites around the U.S., but at many of those sites the Army will use a less controversial and presumably safer method that neutralizes the chemicals by mixing them with warm water or other nontoxic liquids, eliminating the need for smokestacks and high heat.