SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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[H.A.S.C. No. 10664]
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE CHEMICAL AGENTS AND MUNITIONS DESTRUCTION PROGRAM
MILITARY PROCUREMENT SUBCOMMITTEE
COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED SIXTH CONGRESS
SEPTEMBER 21, 2000
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MILITARY PROCUREMENT SUBCOMMITTEE
DUNCAN HUNTER, California, Chairman
FLOYD D. SPENCE, South Carolina
BOB STUMP, Arizona
JAMES V. HANSEN, Utah
JIM SAXTON, New Jersey
JAMES TALENT, Missouri
TERRY EVERETT, Alabama
J.C. WATTS, Jr., Oklahoma
MAC THORNBERRY, Texas
LINDSEY GRAHAM, South Carolina
JIM RYUN, Kansas
JIM GIBBONS, Nevada
MARY BONO, California
JOSEPH PITTS, Pennsylvania
ROBIN HAYES, North Carolina
NORMAN SISISKY, Virginia
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCIKE SKELTON, Missouri
JOHN M. SPRATT, Jr., South Carolina
LANE EVANS, Illinois
ROD R. BLAGOJEVICH, Illinois
TOM ALLEN, Maine
JIM TURNER, Texas
ADAM SMITH, Washington
JAMES H. MALONEY, Connecticut
MIKE McINTYRE, North Carolina
CYNTHIA A. McKINNEY, Georgia
ELLEN O. TAUSCHER, California
ROBERT BRADY, Pennsylvania
Jean D. Reed, Professional Staff Member
Katherine Gordon, Staff Assistant
C O N T E N T S
CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF HEARINGS
Thursday, September 21, 2000, Department of Defense Chemical Agents and Munitions Destruction Program
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Thursday, September 21, 2000
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2000
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE CHEMICAL AGENTS AND MUNITIONS DESTRUCTION PROGRAM
STATEMENTS PRESENTED BY MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
Hunter, Hon. Duncan, a Representative from California, Chairman, Military Procurement Subcommittee
Sisisky, Hon. Norman, a Representative from Virginia, Ranking Member, Military Procurement Subcommittee
Bacon, James L., Program Manager for Chemical Demilitarization, Department of the Army
Burney, Michael J., Director, Calhoun County, Alabama, Emergency Management Agency
Connors, Col. Kevin, Deputy Director of Army Safety
Downs, Dennis R., Director, Division of Solid and Hazardous Waste, Utah Department of Environmental Quality
Ferriter, Dr. John M., Director for Operations, Remediation and Restoration and Leader of the Operations Enterprise
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Fisher, Denzel L., Environmental Programs Specialist, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army, Installations and Environment
Griffith, County Commissioner Gary, Tooele County, Utah, Member, Governor's Citizens Advisory Council
Hansen, Hon. James, a Representative from Utah
Henderson, James Eli, Chairman, Calhoun County, Alabama County Commission
Johnson-Winegar, Dr. Anna, Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Chemical and Biological Defense
Kosson, David S., Ph.D., Chair of Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Professor of Chemical Engineering, Vanderbilt University
Patton, Gloria S., Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army, Chemical Demilitarization, Department of the Army
Rowe, Michael J., Vice President, EG&G Defense Materials, Inc.
Sagers, Kari, Director of Emergency Management, Tooele County, Utah
Salter, Russell, Director, Chemical and Radiological Preparedness Division, Federal Emergency Management Agency
Sessions, Hon. Jeff, U.S. Senator to the Subcommittee on Military Procurement, House Armed Service Committee
Yeskey, Kevin, MD., Acting Director, Emergency and Environmental Health Services, National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC[The Prepared Statements submitted can be viewed in the hard copy.]
Bacon, James L.
Burney, Michael J.
Connors, Col. Kevin
Downs, Dennis R.
Fatz, Raymond J., Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Environment, Safety and Occupational Health, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Installations and Environment)
Ferriter, Dr. John M.
Fisher, Denzel L.
Garrett, Timothy K., P.E., Deputy Site Project Manager for Compliance, Anniston Chemical Agency Disposal Facility
Henderson, James Eli
Hunter, Hon. Duncan
Johnson-Winegar, Dr. Anna
Kosson, David S., Ph.D.
Maggio, Cheryl Lynn, Site Support Group LeaderOperations Team, Program Manager for Chemical Demilitarization
Patton, Gloria S.
Rowe, Michael J.
Sessions, Hon. Jeff
Sisisky, Hon. Norman
Walden, Congressman Greg, House Armed Services Subcommittee on Procurement
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCYeskey, Dr. Kevin
DOCUMENTS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD:
[The Documents submitted can be viewed in the hard copy.]
Alabama CSEPP Protective Action Recommendation Guidebook
Army's May 9 Deseret Chemical Depot Press Release
Army Safety Board Report on the Incident on May 89, 2000 at the Tooele Chemical Agent Disposal Facility in Utah
Department of Environmental Quality, Investigation Report on the Agent Release from the Common Incinerator Stack on May 8 and 9, 2000, at the Tooele Chemical Agent Demilitarization Facility
1998 National Research Council Report
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD:
[The Questions and Answers are pending.]
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE CHEMICAL AGENTS AND MUNITIONS DESTRUCTION PROGRAM
House of Representatives,
Committee on Armed Services,
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Washington, DC, Thursday, September 21, 2000.
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 9:03 a.m., in room 2118, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Duncan Hunter (Chairman of the Subcommittee) presiding.
STATEMENT OF HON. DUNCAN HUNTER, A REPRESENTATIVE FROM CALIFORNIA, CHAIRMAN, MILITARY PROCUREMENT SUBCOMMITTEE
Mr. HUNTER. The Subcommittee will come to order.
Today, the Military Procurement Subcommittee meets to review the Department of Defense's program for destruction of the U.S. stockpile of lethal chemical warfare agents and munitions.
We are joined in the hearing by several members of Congress who have chemical stockpile storage sites in their districts and who are interested in the chemical demilitarization program. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome.
The U.S. chemical weapons stockpile originally consisted of about 31,000 tons of lethal chemical agents in a wide variety of munitions located at Johnston Atoll in the Pacific Southwest of Hawaii and eight sites in the continental United States.
The fiscal year 1986 Defense Authorization Act requires that the destruction of the stockpile be carried out so as to ensure maximum protection of the environment, the general public, and the workers at the storage and demilitarization sites. Destruction of the stockpile is supposed to be completed by April 29, 2007, in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention Treaty. And I might add that it looks like we are the only major players, with respect to that treaty, who are even remotely on schedule.
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As of September 10, 2000, approximately 6,670 tons, or 21 percent of the stockpile, has been destroyed at the two active demil facilities: Johnston Atoll and Tooele, Utah. Three additional facilities that will use a baseline incineration process are under construction at Anniston, Alabama, Umatilla, Oregon, and Pine Bluff, Arkansas, as are two pilot plant facilities to prove out the neutralization processes that will be used for disposal of bulk agent at Edgewood, Maryland, and Newport, Indiana. And selection of either the baseline process or alternative technologies for use at Pueblo, Colorado, and Bluegrass Army Depot, Kentucky, is pending.
The total cost of the program has grown from an estimated $1.7 billion in 1986 to approximately $15.3 billion today. And by the end of fiscal year 2000, approximately $7.5 billion will have been provided for the program.
As will be discussed by witnesses today, during the night of May 8, earlier this year, following the completion of the M56 GB-filled rocket warhead demilitarization and plant maintenance operations at the Tooele, Utah, Chemical Demil Facility, alarms inside the facility indicated the presence of GB agent in the facility's common exhaust stack. The discharge of a small quantity of agent from the stack was confirmed, and perimeter monitors indicated that no detectable level of agent reached the boundary of the Deseret Chemical Depot.
The Army's press release the next day indicated that local authorities had been notified and that there were no injuries to the Tooele facility work force and no danger to the public. The press release also indicated that chemical demil operations at Tooele had been suspended pending an investigation of the incident by the Department of the Army and an independent evaluation by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, and that the Utah Department of Environmental Quality was on site to monitor the situation.
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What was not noted in the press release was the fact that the local emergency response agency was not notified about the incident until approximately four hours after the first alarm indicated the potential presence of chemical agents in the exhaust stack.
The chemical release incident at Tooele on the night of May 8 has created a great deal of concern on the part of those involved in the chemical weapons demil program in both the Government and the private sector alike. The issues that resulted have been the focus of a number of articles in the local media and concerns expressed by officials and residents of the local communities, particularly in Utah, in Alabama and in Oregon, and much discussion among program officials, local officials, members of Congress and the technical experts.
What was the cause of the incident at Tooele? What must be done to prevent such incident from recurring? What are the implications of the incident to demil facilities under construction at Anniston, the next facility scheduled to become operational, and other sites? What must be done to ensure that the chemical stockpile is destroyed so as to ensure the maximum safety of the workers, the environment, and the local citizens who live near the stockpile storage sites?
The purpose of our hearing today is to come to grips with these issues. The hearing will involve three panels: the first to address what happened and the results and recommendations of the investigations that followed; the second to address the concerns of the local communities and what must be done to ensure that the safety of the workers, the environment and the members of the local community is assured; and the third panel to address the Government's implementation of the recommendations from the investigations and response to the concerns raised by the representatives from the local communities.
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I now would like to turn to the distinguished ranking member of the Military Procurement Subcommittee, my great friend, Norm Sisisky, the very eloquent gentleman from Virginia, for any opening remarks that he might want to make. And I think, then, we will turn to the other members of the panel, too, and see if they want to make a remark.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Hunter can be found in the Appendix.]
STATEMENT OF HON. NORMAN SISISKY, A REPRESENTATIVE FROM VIRGINIA, RANKING MEMBER, MILITARY PROCUREMENT SUBCOMMITTEE
Mr. SISISKY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I join Chairman Hunter in welcoming all of our witnesses to the hearing today.
It is my understanding that the primary motivation for this hearing is for us to get a better understanding of the circumstances and responses to the May 8 chemical agent release from the incineration plant at Tooele and the implications for the plant facilities and operations at other locations where the incineration technology is to be implemented. This hearing also provides us with the opportunity to conduct a limited review of the status and execution of the overall Chemical Demil Program.
I am aware that we have an ambitious agenda and a large number of witnesses, so I will not take much time with my introductory remarks. However, I will take a few moments to express some of my concerns.
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Almost two decades ago, this nation committed itself to the awesome challenge of destroying U.S. stockpile of chemical agents and munitions in a manner that would provide maximum protection for the general public and the environment.
As most of you are aware, it has not been an easy road to travel. Every level of government has been involved. Notwithstanding all the difficulties in arriving at a consensus on the specific technology or process to be used, there has generally been a consensus that the timely destruction of the stockpile remains a priority. That was true at the beginning of the program in 1986, and I trust that consensus remains so today.
I personally remain concerned that the risks associated with storage and handling of the chemical stockpile increase with time. In light of the overall success of the program at the two functioning demil sites and the increasing risk associated with the continued deterioration of the stockpile, cessation of the destruction activity is not a viable option. Indications are that the release at Tooele Demil Facility was at a non-harmful exposure level and, consequently, no adverse health effects are anticipated. As such, we should be able to focus our oversight attention today on the adequacy of the response at the site, the post-release investigative process, the identification and adoption of corrective actions as needed, and the implication for other sites.
To that end, I look forward to the testimony and response to the questions.
With those brief remarks, Mr. Chairman, I thank you for your indulgence, and return the rest of my time.
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[The prepared statement of Mr. Sisisky can be found in the Appendix.]
Mr. HUNTER. Thank you very much, Mr. Sisisky.
And I would like to now recognize the gentleman from Utah, who probably knows more about this issue than any member on the House side, except for perhaps the fine gentleman sitting next to him from Alabama.
So, you almost got the big kudos there, Jim. But Mr. Hansen has been a real leader in this area. And, Jim, thank you for being with us today, and you are recognized.
STATEMENT OF HON. JAMES HANSEN, A REPRESENTATIVE FROM UTAH
Mr. HANSEN. I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Let me just say it is a highly charged and emotional issue that we find ourselves in. And, frankly, I think there is sometimes an overreaction on the part of Congress. From time to time, we see everyone panic. They are going to move high-level nuclear waste somewhere, we panic. They are going to move obsolete chemicals, we panic. Something else happens, so we start passing laws, and saying, ''Hey, you can't take it across my area. That is impossible to do.''
Now, you may recall that President Bush at one time told us he wanted to get this thing squared away and out of Europe. Remember that? And what happened? It moved in a hurry. Anybody here want to raise their hand and tell me how many accidents we had in Europe when that happened? I mean it can be done. You can move this stuff. I know that is spitting on the flag in some people's mind, but that is just the way it is. You can move different things.
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I see Dr. Dennis Downs from the State of Utah, a very competent man who takes care of the EPA problems in Utah, and I am looking forward to his testimony.
I recall when I was speaker of the Utah House, we had a man by the name of Scott Mathson, a very fine governor. And Scott got in a big flap while moving the wet-eye bomb from Stapleton over to Johnston. Let's see, we moved it over to Michaelfield, across Johnson Pass and Tooele. Now, it is funny, to this day a lot of people in Utah are totally convinced that didn't happen. The governor was able to stop that. It didn't happen.
It did happen. It was done, and it was done very safely.
So in a way, it is the Army's money, but as I sit here talking to these folks it really bothers me, to a certain extent, that that money doesn't necessarily have to be expended, because sometimes it can be moved. And I don't want to belabor that point, but it always bothers me when people get all irate and overreact and saying what can and can't be done.
As you pointed out in your opening statement, Tooele haswhat do we have? 43 percent of the obsolete chemical warfare. I thinkwhat they have done? 30 percent or so is now destroyed. And, so, in effect, we have destroyed more than any of the rest of you have. And we are way ahead of you. We have destroyed more than everybody else has got and done it safely and sanely.
Every time a vent rattles, however, someone files a lawsuit and stops the thing. And so far, no one has been killed, to my knowledge. I don't know of anyone that has had any problem out there, and they are doing it.
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So, when you say this can't be done, it can. I have all these people that call me on a very regular basis and say, ''There is a better way. We have got better technology.'' Well, what is it? Will somebody stand up and tell me what this better way is? I hope today that somebody is going to stand up and say, ''This is the better way to do it.''
Because way backwhat, we have been here 20 years? way back in 1982 or so we were talking about, what is the best way to get rid of this stuff? We looked at cryofracture, remember all the time spent on that in San Diego. Baseline technology is what we kind of settled on. And if someone has got that better way, I want to hear it.
In one hearing, we did have a man from MIT, and I won't go into what he said the better way was because it would shock all these tender people, but the way he did it was similar to what happened in the First World War. Some of you may recall what happened to the gases at that time.
But anyway, be that as it may, I have read these reviews that happened in Tooele, and I came to three conclusions, Mr. Chairman. First, the good news: At no time was any person in the plant or in the community in danger. No one was injured, and there were no negative impacts on the environment. This leads me to believe that the plant is fundamentally sound, and the people at the plant and in the community know what they are doing.
Second, this incident is not a problem with incineration as a technology; it was a mechanical problem. It does not call into question the fact that prompt destruction of the stockpile through baseline incineration is the best way to ensure maximum protection to the community, workers and the environment.
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Now, the bad news: The incident, however, was avoidable. I hope we can focus on what action has been taken or will be taken to ensure that mistakes won't happen. Now, in Utah, they are getting the job done. It is going to be done, we are going to have that over with. I look at some people here and thank them for the good work they have done. They have been on top of it, they have done awfully good work, and I think we can say it will be over with. And I am looking forward to the day that we have gotten rid of all these obsolete chemical weapons.
And I want to compliment you, Mr. Chairman, because I know years ago we worked together on binary, which I honestly think is a better approach to how to do this.
And I am looking forward to the witnesses that we have here, and I hope that we can come up with a reasonable, sensible way to do it and save the Army some money, because this is going to turn into one of the biggest costs you can possibly imagine. And when the military budget is as strapped as it is now, I hate to see money spent in a redundant way.
And I thank you for the time.
Mr. HUNTER. Thank you very much, Mr. Hansen. And as one of our longtime resident experts in this area, we appreciate your presence here.
And also another gentleman who has delved deeply into this issue and knows a lot about it and who commands great respect on the Subcommitteeon the full Committee, Mr. Riley, we would like to have your comments, sir.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. RILEY. Short comment? A short comment?
Mr. HUNTER. If you are just a minute or two under Mr. Hansen's time, we will be in great shape.
Mr. RILEY. I think that is only fair, Mr. Chairman. And I want to thank you for holding this meeting today.
Mr. Hansen said a moment ago that if there is a better way, then somebody needs to stand up and tell it. There has got to be a better way. What we are doing today is absolutely wrong to the communities that we are trying to serve.
If you look back four years agoand I have been dealing with this now for almost five yearsthe Army has lost a tremendous amount of credibility in my eyes. When I first saw this plant at Tooele almost three and a half years ago, I was told there was no absolutely no way that you could have any type, even to the point of an earthquake, where you could never have any type of leak escape from that plant.
Now, I understand it was a minute amount of gas that came out, but that is not what bothers me. What happened in Tooele pointed out to me that we have some flaws in the system, and we have definite flaws in the training procedures.
I read everyone's testimony last night, and it was amazing to me how much conflict there remains among the witnesses that we are going to have today on how we should handle the problem, how we should handle the training.
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The community that I represent is somewhat different than Mr. Hansen's. Mr. Hansen lives in one of the more beautiful parts of the state, but when I was out there, the most that I saw anywhere close to that plant was antelopes. That is not the case in Anniston, Alabama. We have a school sitting on the border of Anniston Army Depot. We have 70,000 people that do not have a response time. Where you could make a mistake in Utah and really not have any significant problems, we don't have that option. We must have a zero tolerance in Anniston, Alabama.
Now, I have talked to just about every witness that will be here today. Every one says that we have rectified the problems. After reading the testimony last night, I am not too sure that that is the case.
There are a variety of things that I would like to have addressed today. This community was given an assurance four years ago, and it had almost universal total community support for the program. In the last three years, because of statements made that were never fulfilled, this community is no longer a supporter of incineration. One of our witnesses today has almost gone 180 degrees in the opposite direction, based primarily on statements made to the commission, to the community, to me, and then later retracted.
Now, credibility is a very, very precious thing. Once you lose your credibility, it is very difficult to regain it. And I think that is the problem we have with the community. I think that is the problem you are going to have with the rest of the communities. If you operate in all of the other facilities like you have in Anniston, Alabama, this is a foretaste of what is to come. You can't make specific guarantees and promises and later retract them, because those statements are no longer operable, and that is essentially what has happened.
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So, I look forward to the testimony. I think it is going to be interesting to see how much conflict still remains by the end of the day; whether it is on CSEPP, whether it is on incineration, whether it is on training procedures. You are the experts, and as we go through the hearings today, I think it is going to become more and more evident that even our experts can't agree.
So, thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I appreciate your time.
Mr. HUNTER. I want to thank you, Mr. Riley, and thank you for urging the Subcommittee to have this hearing. We appreciate that.
And also we have another gentleman with constituent interest here, Mr. Walden of Oregon. And we know you have been working with the Subcommittee and doing a wonderful job, and we look forward to your statements.
Mr. WALDEN. Well, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate the courtesy of the Committee and your personal courtesy to allow me to sit in today on this hearing and to put a statement in the record.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Walden can be found in the Appendix.]
Mr. WALDEN. I would associate myself with the concerns raised by my colleague, Mr. Riley, and those of Senator Session, whose testimony I have read. There is deep concern in Hermiston, Oregon, as this incinerator is being constructed, and I think they are somewhere around the area of 85 percent complete. We have about 3,717 tons of nerve agent there.
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We want to make sure that the CSEPP program is working and will work. And there have been concerns along the way about the coordination of that program, the communication links in that program, the ability to effectively notify people if there is a problem. There have been some major issues there in coordination and communication that have left people wondering would this really work. And, so I look forward to hearing about that.
The other issue I hear consistently, because this is a very rural area but with a community near it, is regarding impact fees and the problem that this community is having adjusting to the enormous growth occurring in a fairly small, rural area and not getting any help with the infrastructure needs. As one county commissioner pointed out to me, if the Army went out and did this out in the middle of the desert somewhere, they would have to construct the infrastructure that the city is having to build now without any help.
So, these are issues that are of deep concern. Safety and safety of the plant are the fundamental issues we have to resolve.
So, Mr. Chairman, I will enter my statement in the record, and again, thank you for the opportunity to be here.
Mr. HUNTER. Thank you, Mr. Walden. Without objection, your statement will be entered in the record. And we want you to know that the Committee and the Subcommittee look forward to working with you on this issue. We want to be sensitive to your concerns and those of your constituents. So, thank you very much for being with us.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Also, Mr. Ryun and Ms. Tauscher are with us. We've heard from the members that have a constituent interest in this project, but if either of you would like to make a statement, we'd certainly allow that.
Are you fine, Mr. Ryun? Okay. Thank you very much.
Ms. TAUSCHER. I have nothing to add. I am just looking forward to the testimony. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HUNTER. Okay. Thank you very much.
And with us as our lead-off speaker today, we have the Honorable Jeff Sessions, the Senator from Alabama, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and a fine gentleman with whom we work very closely in conference.
And Senator Sessions, we know you have a statement on this issue, and we welcome you. Thanks for being with us and adding your expertise to this issue today.
STATEMENT OF HON. JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. SENATOR TO THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON MILITARY PROCUREMENT, HOUSE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE
Mr. SESSIONS. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate all the comments that were made this morning. I thought they were insightful and helpful. I really appreciate our Congressman, Bob Riley. We've worked on the Anniston area for some time. He is the leading expert on that. He's committed an extraordinary amount of his time to it and understands it thoroughly.
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The problems that we are seeing arise from the unfortunate release on May 8 in Tooele. It has caused an erosion of support and confidence in the credibility of the Army. When the unsafe operation of one plant impacts the credibility of the Army and other demil plants, it certainly impacts Anniston and the seven other communities with chemical agent disposal needs.
Every mistake in this dangerous process must be thoroughly investigated, corrective measures taken, communities briefed and vigilance maintained. Indeed, each of the investigations initiated after the Tooele release have recommended corrective procedures and listed tasks, yet I am not sure, and perhaps you will learn today, where the Army is in actually making all these needed corrections. Nor am I sure that the new equipment available, that could help avoid a Tooele occurrence at Anniston or other facilities, is in place, although the Army had indicated they expect to install that new equipment.
Chemical agents and munitions exist today in eight communities, one overseas location. There are stocks ranging from 523 agent tons in Kentucky to 13,000 in Utah. In Alabama, we have 7 percent of the total, or 2,254 agent tons consisting of nerve gas and blister agents of several configurations. The fact remains that the people of Calhoun County and the city of Anniston still have these weapons in their backyard; they still bear the consequences of the storage, and still possess a patriotism found in few communities in this country. It is a military Army town. They just want to know the Government will safely dispose of these weapons stored just over the ridge at the Army depot.
Unfortunately, the incident at Tooele created alarm, and the reason is simple: It is a question, Congressman Riley, of credibility. Is the chemical demil facility being built in our community the best of its type, and one in which the destruction of the 2,254 agent tons will occur without incident and with the highest degree of safety to the community? The Army's slow, initial response to the Tooele incident last May gave me cause, and added to the anxiety of our people. The Army did not immediately advise public officials or promptly inform the members of Congress. It would seem the Army did not follow its own prescribed guidelines.
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Therefore, I hosted a meeting with Army officials, discussed with them these matters, requested, along with Congressman Riley, that they go to Anniston to brief our county commission and the community leaders on this incident, the status of the investigation, the corrective actions they were taking, the consequences of the event for the facility at Anniston, and the question of impact aid. Later, with Congressman Riley, we initiated a request, in July, for a GAO review, which had been the kind of independent review we needed.
The meeting with the Calhoun County commissioners took place with two members of my staff and members of the Congressman's staff present. Furthermore, I have asked the Army officials to maintain a constant dialogue with local leaders as we get closer to phase two and three, the systemic testing at the facility now scheduled for the spring of 2001, which will be followed by actual destruction of the munitions in April of 2002. Specifically, evacuation plans must be in place and 100 percent operational. I hope this Committee will look closely at this issue guaranteeing this emergency preparedness is complete.
Over the last four years, there isn't a set of issues I have spent more time on than those that have impacted Anniston and Calhoun County.
Mr. Chairman, Anniston was hit hard in 1995 with the largest BRAC closure in the nation with the closure of Fort McClellan and their loss of 6,000 military and civilian persons. I hope and look forward within a few weeks to meeting with Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army Ray Clark and Congressman Riley to sign over the fort's property to the community joint powers authority. But this closure has left a void and created some uncertainty in this community. McClellan had been around for 80 years, so why couldn't something else happen, like a problem with the demil facility despite the Army's guarantees?
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So, Mr. Chairman, where do we find ourselves today? Is the overall chemical demilitarization program improved as a result of the evaluations following the agent release at Tooele? Is the Army now more sensitive to the concerns of the citizens and communities like mine? Are better procedures in place supported by better training at Aberdeen Proving Ground and other places? Are all corrective actions described in the various investigations and reports complete? Have evaluation and evacuation procedures been finalized? These are indeed life-and-death issues for the 70,000 people who live around Anniston Army Depot.
I know the Army wants to do the right thing, but credibility has been lost, and great care to do right and to inform and involve the people is needed now more than ever. So, I would like to describe to the Committee my four greatest concerns regarding the Tooele incident and the planned destruction of chemical munitions at Anniston and other places.
First, the issue of safety. Safety is non-negotiable, and anything that comes between safety and the people of my state must be identified and corrected. This concern applies to any issue at any other plant in the United States, and it will be a key aspect, I know, of your hearing today.
Second, Alabama's state and county EMA directors wrote a letter suggesting that the shortcomings of the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program, CSEPP, are potentially harmful to the safety of the people of Alabama. Originally, the CSEPP program was supposed to support the current stockpile in place, but has now grown to cover the demilitarization process.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The fact that these professional EMA directors have complained in writing is troubling to me. They have said in their letter, and I quote, ''The program is in trouble, and our citizens are at risk.'' The fact that it has taken so long to resolve some of these issues is disturbing, and shows, I think, a lack of sensitivity to the community concerns. I am very concerned that this professional group, signed by seven EMA leaders, would say that the program is in trouble and our citizens are at risk.
FEMA and the Army need to complete a comprehensive plan that has the confidence of the community and officials and report back to this Committee the status of its work in all the communities before phase two systemization begin at any location.
Third, evacuation plans and exercises must be complete. I find it very distressing that a county official would say that he does not know what to do in the event an evacuation were to occur, and that's what we've been told.
Mr. Chairman, the taxpayers have spent millions of dollars, soon billions of dollars, to provide for protection and evacuation measures. It's simply unacceptable that this issue should linger between EMAs and their Army or FEMA counterparts. If an EMA is confused, how can the Army and FEMA expect state and local officials and citizens to react properly in the time of crisis?
Therefore, I am calling for a full-blown evacuation training exercise involving federal, state, county, city officials as necessary to see that every aspect of our crisis plan is examined fully. Here, again, this should be and must be done before phase two systems begin.
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Fourth, community impact fees. Mr. Chairman, this subject is important. Several communities have asked the Army for support, and the Army, in a letter to me yesterday, stated, ''Presently, there is no statutory basis for the Army to compensate communities for socio-economic impacts possibly associated with the Chemical Demilitarization Program. The Army cannot make payments to affected communities without proper statutory authority.'' Mr. Chairman, I believe aid is justified, and it is needed, and I will leave this issue by replying to Army Major General William Lennox that we will be working to change that authority. I think that should be done.
Mr. Chairman, the Chemical Demil Program is extremely important to America. We've invested a lot of money in it, as you have noted. In communities like Anniston, people should be concerned with the destruction of these chemical agents and weapons. They should speak out when their concerns are not addressed. Equally important, the Army, as the Defense Department's executive agent for the program, must be extremely careful in its management and must, above all, remain credible in its dealings with the Congress and the people in each of the eight affected communities. As we all know, once you lose even a small measure of credibility, you must work doubly hard at regaining that aspect.
I would simply say I remain fundamentally confident that if this process is conducted properly, it will be done safely and the weapons will be destroyed in a safe manner. But we must be prepared in case danger or error occurs.
So, I'd like to thank the chair, Congressman Rileywe work so hard on this togetherfor his leadership and for the support that you have given us.
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I would be pleased to answer any questions and would like to offer my full text of my remarks for the record.
[The prepared statement of Senator Sessions can be found in the Appendix.]
Mr. HUNTER. We thank you very much, Senator Sessions, and without objection, your written statement will be taken into the record. And I know the gentleman from Utah did have a question for you.
Mr. HANSEN. Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman. I thank the Senator for his testimony.
Let me agree with you, Senator, that safety is the number one issue, and it can't be compromised. I agree on that, and I also feel, as I am sure you do, that something has to be done. You know, we just can't let that stuff sit there.
Let me just point out to you what we did in Tooele. The Army has bunkers, and in those bunkers they have whatever it may bethe rocket, the mine, the whole thing. And they put it in something they call coffinsI am sure you're aware of that. And sometimes we've got coffins in coffins, and they leak.
And, so a questionI don't know how you do it in Anniston, I assume you do it the same waythey have alarm systems that do a very good job in detecting it. But the question I would like to make sure that's on the minds of all those who are going to testify: If you had to determine in your own mind what is the greatest amount of problem or what leaks the most, those that are being stored or this minuscule amount that we talk about in Tooeleand I agree with you, it's a problem; I am not debating that. I'd like to kind of get the percentages. How much stuff is leaking out of those leakers, whether it's in Anniston, Pine Bluff, Lexington, wherever it is, compared to the problem we had in Tooele that we've all addressed here today? I would be curious to know.
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So, the point comes down to this: Something has to be done. And I think Congress was wise to move out and say, ''Maybe it's not the best, but it's the best we got is baseline technology, and let's move.''
I, personally, in my own heart of hearts, feel it's probably just as dangerous to sit there with a stockpile that we are having a hard time controlling as it is to go ahead. And I don't know anything that's totally safe, but as far as I can tell, this is as good as it can be. I don't know, we fly all the time. I worry about the worm gear on a 737 on that elevator, and as an old pilot, I worry about other things. But I don't know anything that's totally safe. But I personally think the Army's done a pretty darn good job, and I would hope that we could resolve this little issue and move ahead with the program.
Probably more of a statement than a question, Senator, but if you'd like to respond.
Mr. SESSIONS. And I think that was a wise comment. And we need to get this stuff destroyed. I don't think, unless some scientific breakthrough, unless you learn something today unusual, there will be any better way of doing it than the way we're doing it now with the incineration. And I think it does need to be destroyed. It is a detriment to the people of Anniston, Alabama, and every community, psychologically or otherwise. They feel the burden of having these chemicals there, and they need to get them destroyed.
So, I think if we maintain the proper relationship between Army officials, local community, if they don't have the kind of disconnect that we're having in Anniston where we've got local officials actually saying they question the safety of the citizens and we don't have good plans set up, I think if we can avoid that and get on it, I believe this will be able to be completed successfully. I wish it wouldn't cost as much as it has cost, too.
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Mr. Chairman, thank you.
Mr. HUNTER. Senator, thank you very much, and we look forward to working with you on this issue, and thank you for the concern of your folks in your state and your good hard work with Bob Riley. Appreciate it.
Mr. SESSIONS. Appreciate your leadership and commitment to the defense of this country. Thank you.
Mr. HUNTER. Thank you, sir.
Folks, we're going to begin this first panel now, and I want to advise our members we've got a large number of witnesses, we've got a lot of ground to cover, and so we're going to apply the five-minute rule as we go through the question period. So, please hold all your questions until all the members of panel, who are presenting testimony, have had a chance to make that testimony.
A copy of the Army's May 9 press release and the reports of the investigations of the Tooele incident, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Army Safety Office, and the State of Utah Department of Environmental Quality Division of Solid and Hazardous Waste, have been received by the Subcommittee and, without objection, will be placed in the record. Hearing no objection, so ordered.
[The information referred to can be found in the Appendix.]
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Mr. HUNTER. And for the first panel, we're pleased to have as our witnessesand just come on up, folks, as we call you upMr. Mike Rowe; Dr. Kevin Yeskey; Colonel Kevin Connors; Dr. Dennis Downs, who will present the results of the investigations conducted by their activities; Dr. David Kosson, from the National Academy of Science and Stockpile Committee, who will discuss the oversight role performed by the Committee; and Mrs. Cheryl Maggio, Dr. John Ferriter, and Mr. Tim Garrett, who are available to answer questions relative to their areas of responsibility.
So, ladies and gentlemen, welcome. We look forward to your testimony. And why don't we proceed first with Mr. Rowe?
STATEMENT OF MICHAEL J. ROWE, VICE PRESIDENT, EG&G DEFENSE MATERIALS, INC.
Mr. ROWE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and members of the Committee.
Mr. HUNTER. And Mr. Rowe, incidentally, your statement will be, and all written statements will be, accepted into the record, without objection, so feel free to summarize your statement with the understanding we've got a lot of folks that we need toand I know we've got members that have focused questions in areas. So, don't feel like you need to present your entire statement orally because it will be taken into the record.
Thank you, Dr. Rowe, for being with usMr. Rowe.
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Mr. ROWE. Thank you. I will be brief.
My name is Mike Rowe. I am the general manager for EG&G at the Tooele Chemical Agent Disposal Facility. I appreciate the opportunity to address you all today.
EG&G has performed both a local and a corporate investigation into the May 8 incident. Our investigation utilized personnel with extensive safety and investigation experience. Our investigation concluded that a combination of human error and equipment malfunction led to the release of agent.
I am responsible for the operations of TOCDF. I am accountable to the U.S. Government by virtue of our contract. I am accountable to the citizens of the State of Utah, based on our environmental permits. I accept these responsibilities.
At TOCDF, we rely on three levels of protection, including engineering controls, administrative controls, and the knowledge and training of the people who operate the facility. For an incident like May 8 to happen, each of these levels must be compromised. Therefore, we have implemented corrective action aimed at enhancing each of these levels.
New engineering controls include an isolation valve on the incinerator, a high flow preventer on the incinerator. New administrative controls include updates and upgrading of our emergency operating or contingency procedures. We have improved our personnel by providing additional training and requalification.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Our mission at TOCDF is to dispose of the stockpile to Deseret Chemical Depot. To date, we have disposed of 36 percent of the stockpile at the depot. That's almost 10 million pounds, or 5,000 tons, including 550,000 individual munitions. We are committed to the completion of this critical mission, and I look forward to answering your questions today.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Rowe can be found in the Appendix.]
Mr. HUNTER. Mr. Rowe, thank you.
Just before we move down the line, I violate my own rule by just asking a question. Just run through, in layman terms, how this stuff got out?
Mr. ROWE. Very briefly, sir, we were in a restoration from maintenance phase. We were performing maintenance on the deactivation furnace system. That's the unit that treats the explosive components and the munitions and rocket engines.
To perform that maintenance, the pressure in the furnace was required to be manipulated by the operator in the control room. After the maintenance was done, the restoration for maintenance caused a high flow in the furnace, then a subsequent series of events, which I am sure we'll get into later, caused an automatic shutdown of that furnace.
During the restart process, although there was no agent being processed, there was agent in the room where the munitions are disassembled, the explosives confinement room. That agent was drawn through the furnace, through the pollution abatement system, and out the stack where it was detected.
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Mr. HUNTER. Okay. I got you. So, the furnace was down, but this was akin to having your fireplace open, and the substance went up through the flue, so to speak.
Mr. ROWE. Yes, sir.
There's a slight difference, though. One of the inherent features of incinerators with large amounts of refractory is, even after they shut down, they are capable of destroying any material that passes through them, provided the temperature in the incinerators is above a minimum temperature, and the resonance time of the material in the incinerator is adequate.
In this particular case, because of the manipulation of the controls, the temperature in the incinerator dropped below that minimum, and the flow was excessive.
Mr. HUNTER. Okay. Is that easily fixable?
Mr. ROWE. Yes, sir. We have made both engineering, administrative and training fixes to those problems.
Mr. HUNTER. So, this should not be a show-stopper in terms of an inherent defect that would cause you to shut down for long periods of time.
Mr. ROWE. No, sir. We have made those corrections, and the furnace is, in fact, on line.
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Mr. HUNTER. Okay. Thank you very much, Mr. Rowe.
STATEMENT OF KEVIN YESKEY, MD., ACTING DIRECTOR, EMERGENCY AND ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH SERVICES, NATIONAL CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION
Dr. YESKEY. Good morning. I am Dr. Kevin Yeskey, acting director of the Emergency and Environmental Health Services Division of the National Center for Environmental Health, one of the centers within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. I am a physician who is board certified in emergency medicine.
I would like to thank the Committee for inviting me here today to discuss CDC's congressionally mandated public health oversight role to the Department of Defense Chemical Demilitarization Program and, specifically, our investigation of the agent release at Tooele, Utah.
In this public health oversight capacity, CDC responded to the agent release at the Tooele Chemical Demilitarization Facility to ensure that the health of the community and workers was protected and to help minimize risk of further releases. CDC believes that protection of the workers and the public's health is the number one priority in the destruction of these chemical weapons.
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC CDC was notified on May 9, 2000, of a chemical agent release from the common stack of the incineration plant at the Tooele facility. CDC dispatched an investigation team to conduct an independent initial assessment of the public health impact of the workers in the surrounding community. CDC then followed the initial assessment with an in-depth analysis of the incident, which is detailed in our technical investigation report.
In the initial assessment and the final technical report, we concluded that the facility employees and the people in the surrounding community were not exposed to a level of agent that would cause any short-term or long-term adverse health effects. However, the CDC investigation found several issues that simultaneously contributed to the agent release. CDC offered 15 recommendations to help reduce the probability of similar events and enhance the safety of existing systems. We have provided these details and recommendations in the technical report and written testimony.
Based on our final assessment of the facility and the emergency operation centers, CDC has determined that our recommendations have been addressed and implemented. With this determination, CDC supports the Army's decision to resume plant operations and believes the Army will follow safety procedures to ensure public health. We will continue to work jointly to demilitarize our nation's stockpiled lethal chemical weapons in the safest manner possible, reducing the inherent risk of exposure from storage.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify today. I am happy to answer any questions that you may have.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Yeskey can be found in the Appendix.]
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Mr. HUNTER. Thank you, Dr. Yeskey.
STATEMENT OF COL. KEVIN CONNORS, DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF ARMY SAFETY
Colonel CONNORS. Mr. Chairman, members of the Subcommittee, I am Colonel Kevin Connors, and I appreciate the opportunity to speak to your Committee this morning.
I am currently the commander of 2nd Brigade, 78th Division, which is part of 1st United States Army. My organization is one of several brigades that provide training support and assistance to the National Guard and Reserves. At the time of the TOCDF incident, I was the Deputy Director of Army Safety at Department of the Army. The Office Director of Army Safety provide policy, oversight and support to senior leaders.
I was tasked by Mr. Raymond J. Fatz, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Environment, Safety and Occupational Health, to conduct an independent investigation of the TOCDF incident which occurred on 8, 9 May.
My charter was plain and simple: Find out what caused the incident and provide recommendations in order to prevent a similar incident from occurring in the future.
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you for the opportunity, and I look forward to your questions. [Laughter.]
[The prepared statement of Colonel Connors can be found in the Appendix.]
Mr. HUNTER. Thank you, sir.
STATEMENT OF DENNIS R. DOWNS, DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF SOLID AND HAZARDOUS WASTE, UTAH DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY
Mr. DOWNS. Mr. Chairman and Committee members, I appreciate the opportunity to provide information concerning the Tooele Chemical Demilitarization Facility at Deseret Chemical Depot in Utah. My name is Dennis Downs, and for the record, just a correction, I do not carry the title of doctor. I am the director of the Division of Solid and Hazardous Waste in the Utah Department of Environmental Quality. I also serve as executive secretary to the Utah Solid and Hazardous Waste Committee, and I am a member of the Utah Citizens Advisory Commission on Chemical Demilitarization.
The Utah Division of Solid and Hazardous Waste is the regulatory agency with primary responsibility for permitting and regulatory oversight at the Deseret Chemical Depot. We have a highly trained and experienced staff who take their job seriously and who are dedicated to protect the health and the environment of our citizens.
The Tooele Chemical Demilitarization Facility has been destroying weapons since August of 1996. Originally, Utah was the storage site for approximately 43 percent of the chemical weapons stockpile in the continental United States. Over one-third of the agent stored in Utah has now been destroyed. We look forward to the completion of this destruction process.
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Relative to the May 8 and 9, 2000, release of a small amount of chemical agent from the main facility stack, the State of Utah has completed an extensive review and evaluation of the causes of the incident and the proposed remedies.
We believe that the cause of the release was due both to mechanical failure and human error. Details of our investigation are contained in our report, which has previously been submitted to the Committee. We generally concur with the reports of the other agencies and the Army contractor, EG&G, on these causes. We also concur with the Federal Department of Health and Human Services and Dr. Yeskey's conclusion that the incident did not result in a danger to human health or to the environment.
We provided the Army with a number of issues which needed to be addressed prior to resuming agent operations. Some of these issues related to all incineration components of the facility, while others pertained only to the deactivation furnace system where the May 8 incident occurred.
After reviewing remedies implemented by the Army, we gave approval for the resumption of operations of the liquid incinerator units and the metal parts furnace. Agent operations resumed in these units on July 28. On Monday, September 18, this past Monday, remedies associated with the deactivation furnace system were completed, and we gave approval for resuming agent operations in that unit.
In summary, we believe that the May 8 incident could have been prevented by increased attention to maintenance of mechanical systems and by adherence to existing standard operating procedures. However, we also believe that the conservative nature of the design and operation of the facility prevented any harm to workers, the public or the environment. We believe that the Army has addressed the State of Utah's concern relating to the release and that the incinerator can safely continue in the destruction of the chemical weapons stored in our state.
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Thank you, and I would be pleased to answer any questions.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Downs can be found in the Appendix.]
Mr. HUNTER. Thank you, Mr. Downs. And I understand that we have some charts that will be used to help us as we try to follow along with what happened here. Is that right? Okay. Why don't you go ahead and put them up if you want to, if you have some place to put them up there?
And I would just lead off by asking you to, kind of, set up for us. And Mr. Rowe, you talked to some degree about what happened here, but I think the practical key is this: We have, obviously, an agent that is dangerous and a facility that's designed to destroy that agent. And, of course, the threshold requirement is that stuff doesn't get out during the operation. And some stuff got out, some agent got out.
And I guess, as a layman, my first broad question would be: Do we have a system which is defective, in the sense that, unless you act proactively, unless you have people who are vigilant, the design and makeup of the system is such that agent will escape? Or is this something that occurred because actions that should have been taken that are fairly ministerial and simple to take and are regularly taken were, in fact, not taken in this particular instance? What kind of deal do we have here?
Why don't you walk us through this chart and how this stuff got out in this particular instance?
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Mr. ROWE. Yes, sir, Mr. Chairman. Would it be acceptable to stand?
Mr. HUNTER. Oh, yes, sure. Go right on up to the board there if you want to, and you might want to grab a mike. Maybe Dr. Ferriter can let you borrow his mike. It's a little bit bulky there, but go right ahead. Go ahead and use that. That's a bulky mike, but go ahead and just hold it there. It's a good hand-held system there. Could we do that?
Mr. ROWE. Can you hear me, sir?
Mr. HUNTER. Okay, that's fine. You're fine. Go ahead.
Mr. ROWE. Okay. During normal processing, the munitions, including rockets and energetic projectiles, are first brought into this area here, which is an explosives confinement room. And its purpose is to ensure that if a detonation takes place, it is contained within that room.
Mr. HUNTER. So, this is a big, heavily reinforced room.
Mr. ROWE. That's correct, sir.
Mr. HUNTER. Okay.
Mr. ROWE. Those actions then deposit those materials on a feed gate which feeds into our deactivation furnace system. The feed gate is a series of gates. It is first a slide valve, then a tipping gate, and the material first enters between those two, and then goes down into the furnace system. The purpose of those two gates is to ensure that if there is an explosion in the incinerator, it stays there and does not go back up into the explosives confinement room. So, these are explosive barriers.
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Mr. HUNTER. Okay.
Mr. ROWE. One of the points that is important is they are not vapor barriers.
From there, they feed down into the first portion of the incinerator, which is a rotary or retort kiln, and in that, the material falls in there and slowly works its way through the kiln and onto a heated discharge conveyor. The process takes a little less than an hour to feed those materials through, and they come out the aft end as scrap metal.
The flue gas, or the gas that's from combustion, leaves that incinerator, goes through a cyclone where particulate is removed
Mr. HUNTER. Okay. Now, where is the incinerator on your diagram there?
Mr. ROWE. This is the rotary kiln and incinerator. There are two.
Mr. HUNTER. Well, how big is that, for all of us here?
Mr. ROWE. Oh, that's probably six foot in diameter and probably 40 foot long.
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HUNTER. Okay.
Mr. ROWE. That's an estimate, sir.
Mr. HUNTER. And, so when these weapons go into that incinerator, they go in basically whole?
Mr. ROWE. No, they go in in pieces. The largest piece is typically smaller than 18 inches.
Mr. HUNTER. Okay.
Mr. ROWE. So, they're in this room, they're disassembled
Mr. HUNTER. Oh, they're disassembled in that room, okay.
Mr. ROWE. The rockets are, literally, cut into pieces and fed in in pieces. So, we cut the fuse off, we cut the agent cavity in half, we cut the motor in pieces, we cut the tail fin off. And each of those pieces are fed in in groups. So, the pieces are approximately 18 inches.
Mr. HUNTER. Okay. And, of course, the piece that retains the agent is about how big?
Mr. ROWE. That portion of a rocket is probably about 24 inches long, I would estimate, sir.
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Mr. HUNTER. Okay.
Mr. ROWE. The flue gas then goes through the cyclone and enters the secondary combustion chamber. We call it the afterburner in this case.
Mr. HUNTER. Okay. What's happened at this point to the piece that has the agent in it?
Mr. ROWE. Okay, the metal piece falls into the retort. That's a fire box. And it's incinerated and heated to over 1,000 degrees for 15 minutes. That piece of metal or fiberglass or material works its way through this incinerator and falls into a collection vent.
Mr. HUNTER. Okay. What
Mr. RILEY. Let me make one point right here.
Mr. HUNTER. Sure, go ahead, Mr. Riley. And any members who want to jump in, we just have a few members, so go ahead. This is pretty important. Go ahead and ask
Mr. RILEY. One thing that is being left out, when this is processed, all of the agent has been drained out. So, the only thing that is being processed now is just the residue that happened to remain on the part that didn't completely drain, which is going to bring up my next point.
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Mr. HUNTER. Okay. Okay.
Mr. ROWE. Mr. Congressman, we have two cases. If the rockets drain, we can feed 17 pounds of residual agent per hour, so there is some residual agent in the rocket. However, there are rockets that have jelled agent, and we can feed 10.7 pounds per hour. So, a rocket can go in with up to 10.7 pounds of agent in it.
Mr. RILEY. Did this have jelled agent in this
Mr. ROWE. No, sir.
Mr. RILEY. Would anyone know?
Mr. ROWE. When we were running the M56s earlier in the day, I believe they were draining fairly well.
Mr. RILEY. So, you would assume that this hadn't been properly drained, and it was only a residual amount that was hung in the chute, the residual that was on the
Mr. ROWE. I have not gotten to the source of the agent yet. If you'll let me go through the flow path, I will say it was not the munitions that were being processed that was the source of the agent.
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HUNTER. Okay. So, just state where we are now. You drained agent, but when the agent has jelled to some degree, you'd have a large amount of residual agent?
Mr. ROWE. That's correct, sir.
Mr. HUNTER. Okay. How much per weapon?
Mr. ROWE. 10.7 pounds.
Mr. HUNTER. Okay. Okay, go ahead.
Mr. ROWE. The flue gas or the incinerator effluent that comes out of this fire box again goes through the cyclone where the particulate is removed and then into the afterburner. The afterburner feature is a redundant fire box to ensure that we incinerate all the material that goes through the system. So, we have our primary fire box and a secondary fire box. At this point, all agent destruction is complete; there should be no agent residual of any kind.
We then go through our pollution abatement system, which is a particulate and acid gas removing system. It goes through a clinch tower which brings the temperature down to less than 200 degrees. We go through a venturi scrubber, which removes particulate. This is important because this venturi is controllable. This is one of the items that the operator has control of, and he can manipulate the delta-P or the pressure differential across that to ensure that it scrubs.
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It then goes through a scrubber tower, which is a series of scrubbers which uses sodium hydroxide solution to wash the acid gas. Then it removes all those acids, and we end up with CO2 and residual oxygen and nitrogen.
It goes through a flow sensor after it comes out of the scrubber, through a de-mister where as much water that can be removed as possible is, through an induced-draft fanthat's the fan that pulls the air through the entire system; that's the motive force for the entire combustion process, through an exhaust duct which has an agent monitor on it, to a common stack which also has a separate set of agent monitors out, and then out to the atmosphere.
The common stack has all the incinerator's effluents go to it, so it has got two liquid incinerators, a metal parts furnace and the deactivation furnace.
The night in question, we were processing M56 warheads. The second valve, the tipping gate, jammed or would not fully shut, because as we shear those rockets into pieces, we get residual and material that breaks away during that shearing process. It built up around the seat of that tipping valve, and the valve would not fully shut. That was about 4 p.m.
Mr. HUNTER. Now, which valve would not shut?
Mr. ROWE. There's two valves that come from the room where the rockets are sheared: There's a slide valve that's in the room, and right below that is a tipping valve. And those were a pair of gates
Mr. HUNTER. And that's to ensure that nothing escapes.
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Mr. ROWE. That's right. Those are explosive
Mr. HUNTER. And what you're saying is when you cut this stuff up, it is like cutting wood, in a way, you got sawdust, so to speak, that builds up.
Mr. ROWE. That's a good example; yes, sir.
Mr. HUNTER. And, so your particles built up and prevented a seal.
Mr. ROWE. The tipping gate would not fully shut.
Mr. HUNTER. Okay. Now, my question to you is, obviously, it is anticipated that you are going to have particles built up when you are cutting this stuff, right?
Mr. ROWE. Yes.
Mr. HUNTER. In the design process, what was the anticipated fix for this buildup to make sure that the doors would close?
Mr. ROWE. Part of the initial design is above the upper feed gate there's a spray system, and one of its purposes is to add liquid to the system to ensure as much of the material washes down into the incinerator as possible.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HUNTER. Okay. What happened in this case?
Mr. ROWE. It's still at the lower tipping gate. It was building up residue, sir.
Mr. HUNTER. Do you think that's a design defect that has to be fixed?
Mr. ROWE. We have made a correction to that.
Mr. HUNTER. How do you do it?
Mr. ROWE. One of the corrections we've made is, at this lower feed gate, we've installed hydro washers. They're high-pressure water sprays.
Mr. HUNTER. Okay.
Mr. ROWE. And we can do that remotely as an automaticit requires operator action, but it could be washed remotely.
Mr. HUNTER. So, basically, you spray the edge of the valve so that it will seal.
Mr. ROWE. That's correct. We keep it washed clean.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HUNTER. Is there a way to ascertain that it, in fact, is working effectively?
Mr. ROWE. We have a program that we put in place to monitor how this new system functions to ensure that it does what we need, and it is, in fact, working.
Mr. HUNTER. Okay. But is there a way to make sure that the valve is closing? Since keeping this stuff from getting out is a high priority
Mr. ROWE. Yes.
Mr. HUNTER.is there a way to make sure you know the door is shut?
Mr. ROWE. Yes, sir. We have closed indication on the door. It's very clear if it's shut. But, again, one of the unique things to this furnace and one of the fixes that we will talk about in a minute takes into account that this is not a vapor seal; it is an explosive seal.
Mr. HUNTER. Is it supposed to be a vapor seal?
Mr. ROWE. No, sir. It is an explosive seal by design.
Mr. HUNTER. But the stuff got out.
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. ROWE. Through this gate; yes, sir.
Mr. HUNTER. Through that gate. Well, then if that seal is not supposed to keep it from getting out, you are saying that what happened, at least at that point, is unacceptable?
Mr. ROWE. No, sir. Normal operations has the pressure in this room above it, above the gate, lower than the pressure in the fire box, and therefore normal ventilation
Mr. HUNTER. Okay. Go ahead and tell us about thelet's go back to the night in question when this stuff got out. Go ahead and proceed.
Mr. ROWE. During the night in question, this valve had malfunctioned, and maintenance was performedthe process stopped about 4 p.m. The maintenance was performed and completed approximately 9 p.m. However, in addition to that, in this room, where we drain the agent, we have a strainer that we remove any fiberglass or other material from the agent when we drain it out of the rockets. Normal preventative maintenance cleans that strainer. It's got a sock in it, if you will. That sock, by procedure, is removed and set on this upper feed gate.
So, at the end of the maintenance, the condition of the furnace was there was a feed gate that was shut, the furnace was lined up for maintenance, and the sock was on the feed gate. The sock was the source of agent for the release.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HUNTER. You're going to have speak up. Your voice is, kind of, trailing off there at the end, and we need a good record here.
Mr. ROWE. The sock was the source of agent, we believe, for this release. That sock was a strainer from the rocket drain system.
Mr. HUNTER. Okay.
Mr. ROWE. Now, the night in question, the operator to perform this duty sets the system up, so that there is a higher vacuum in the furnace than in this room, so that people can be in this room and not have any furnace gas come back up into that room. That's a manual operation that the operator does by manipulating the controller and the venturi and the induced-draft fan damper. That's a two-control operation.
When you wash this gatewhen we cleaned it before, we went in with hydro washers and washed it manually. When you wash a gate with water, it generates steam, and the operator had difficulty controlling the pressure within the furnace system, the entire system. The operator continued to manipulate the controls and get a draft going that was far in exceedance of what was needed. The pressure in the furnace was too low.
At that point, this scrubber tower herewhich sprays water in the top space, caustic in the topthat spray and water and the scrubber started to carry over because of the high flow and affected the flow gas meter. This is a meter that just tells the total flow through the system. That meter malfunctioned because of the carryover and went to a zero flow indication. The burner management system, or the protective system for this furnace, will not allow it to operate if there is no flow and will cause a lockout. What that means is that the burner in the rotary kiln, the burner, and the afterburners shut off and stopped.
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Now, as I alluded to earlier, as long as you have residual temperature in your afterburner agent and an acceptable amount of time, that afterburner will continue to destroy agent; it doesn't stop when the flame goes out.
The operators troubleshot, attempted to get this meter back online, and then restarted the afterburner. As they attempted to restart the afterburner through a series of purges that is more easily read than described, the temperature in the afterburner dropped. The flow remained excessive until it got to the point where it was in the 1,100-plus degree range, as opposed to 2,000 degrees. The flow was excessive. The resonance time in the afterburner was not adequate. The agent that was on the gate was being drawn through the system, through the flue gas, through the afterburner, which was no longer performing its function, out, and was detected in the stack.
Mr. HUNTER. Mr. Sisisky.
Mr. SISISKY. Mr. Rowe, your company is EG&G Defense Materials, Incorporated.
Mr. ROWE. Yes, sir.
Mr. SISISKY. Did you design that system?
Mr. ROWE. No, sir, I did not.
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SISISKY. Who designed the system? Was it the Army?
Ms. MAGGIO. Yes, sir. The facility was designed by a company called Ralph & Parsons under contract to the Army.
Mr. SISISKY. So, in all of the sites that we're going to use, are we going to use this design?
Ms. MAGGIO. The deactivation furnace system design with the pollution abatement system will be in the baseline incineration facilities.
Mr. SISISKY. Now, who has the obligation
Mr. HUNTER. Ms. Maggio, pull that mike up a little closer there.
Mr. SISISKY. Who has the obligation of safety at these plants? Is it the Army or is it the contractor?
Ms. MAGGIO. The contractor is responsible for the management and all aspects of management of the facility. The Army is responsible for oversight of those facilities to include, especially, safety. So, the Army is the overseer, while each contractor
Mr. SISISKY. Is the contractual obligation of safety on the contract in any way?
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Ms. MAGGIO. Yes, sir.
Mr. SISISKY. How is it? Is it a dollar amount? I will get right to what I am really driving at. The plant has been closed down four months.
Mr. ROWE. Yes, sir.
Mr. SISISKY. Who bore the expense of the closing of that plant for four months?
Ms. MAGGIO. The particular contract that we have is considered a cost plus award fee contract. And the award fee bases safety as a critical component of that.
Mr. SISISKY. I thought that's what would be the answer, which bothers me to a degree.
But I always ask a very basic question: Would you eat your lunch outside the plant and would you have your family living in the area?
Mr. ROWE. Yes, sir, I do eat in the plant, and I live in Tooele, and I would have no problem with any of my family members working in the plant.
Mr. SISISKY. Thank you very much.
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HUNTER. Mr. Hansen.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
If I am correct, 18 milligrams is what you leaked out of here; is that right?
Mr. ROWE. I believe the final conclusion was 20
Mr. HANSEN. Pardon me?
Mr. ROWE.22, plus or minus 4, milligrams.
Mr. HANSEN. Put that in perspective for us. How big is that?
Mr. ROWE. It's less than a drop of water, sir.
Mr. HANSEN. Less than a drop of water. A big drop. That got looselet's say we go to Mr. Riley's place and ask him with his house surrounded, instead of coyotes that he refers to out in Tooele, what would that do? Let's say you're standing right over the stack and you breathe that. Will that kill you?
Mr. ROWE. Rather than mass, I'd like to answer that in the same method we measure it, which is in concentrations. We had 3.6 ASC, allowable stack concentrations. I think you would find that is not a toxic level of exposure. If you stood with your face in the plume, your exposure would be to the temperature of the vapor, not the agent.
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Mr. HANSEN. Any of the rest of you like to respond to that question? What would be your comment on that? How dangerous was this? I mean the people who live in Tooele, admittedly Tooele is a little further north, but there are people who live in that area, was anybody in danger because of this?
Mr. ROWE. I believe no one was in danger because of it, but I still want to stress that no release is acceptable.
Mr. HANSEN. I agree with you 100 percent, but I just wondered what happened on that.
Let me ask Mr. Downs a question. Is it true that they can't do anything until you give them the right to do it?
Mr. DOWNS. Yes, sir, that's right.
Mr. HANSEN. So, if you want to shut them down, you can shut them down. If you want to let them go, you can let them go; is that right?
Mr. DOWNS. Yes, sir.
Mr. HANSEN. Have they ever given you any problems, as far as access into the plant?
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DOWNS. No, sir. We have total access to all parts of the plant.
Mr. HANSEN. Well, what about the Army and the contractor? Are they totally, totally with you and very agreeable to work with you? Did they ever give you any trouble on that, or can you go in, ask any question, get any information you want to get your hands on?
Mr. DOWNS. Well, sir, we're always accepted at the plant. We have an office there. We have computer hookups that go from our office in Salt Lake City to the plants, so we can monitor it remotely, even. But we have total accessibility out there, and that includes wherever our people want to go as well as looking at any records that they have on site.
Mr. HANSEN. I want to go back to this question that we got into with the Senator. We store the stuff before it gets there. In my 20 years as Representative in that area out there, every commanding officer's talked about leakers.
I have gone in and looked in those bunkers. I have been with them, I have seen their alarm system. Put it in percentage the amount that you lost here. And I agree with you, it's not acceptable, and you can'tyou know, we have got to fix it. But on the other side of the coin, compare that, the percent that you lost there, to the amount that you lose in leakers. What would be the comparison?
Grab a mike if you want to respond to that.
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Dr. FERRITER. Congressman Hansen, the amount leaked out of the stack was very small in comparison to the normal amount of leakers we have.
Mr. HANSEN. Very small, what would that be?
Dr. FERRITER. In a percentage, I would say
Mr. HANSEN. A 1,000-to-1 or what?
Dr. FERRITER. At least 5,000-to-1 or less, sir.
Mr. HANSEN. And would you say that Tooele would be typical of the other places: Umatilla, Pueblo, Lexington, Anniston, the whole nine yards? Do you think that would be kind of comparable?
Dr. FERRITER. At Umatilla, sir, there are very few leakers. But at Anniston there is a significant number of leakers, so it would be more comparable to the Anniston. Our recent most leaker at Deseret was about one cup of mustard spilled out of a ton, equivalent to 500,000 milligrams, which if you compare that one leak to the 18 or 22 milligrams there, you can see the ratio, and we've had a few more than a single leak there.
Mr. HUNTER. Dr. Ferriter, pull that mike up a little bit so we can hear you a little better here. We've got to get you on the record here.
Mr. HANSEN. Do you want to repeat that, sir?
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Dr. FERRITER. Yes, sir. A recent leak at Deseret was about one cup full of mustard from a ton container, which equates to about 500,000 milligrams. If you compare that one leak then to the 22, plus or minus 4, you can see that, and there have been far more leakers at Deseret than that one instance at the stack.
Mr. HANSEN. So, Mr. Chairman, what I am trying to put in perspective here, as I agree with Mr. Rowe, I mean, it is unacceptable we have any leaks, but the problem we've got is getting rid of the stuff. And if everyone of these organizations has leakers, which I think the Army and others are doing a pretty good job controlling, where is the biggest problem, this one getting loose or the possibility of a leaker creating problems?
Dr. FERRITER. Congressman Hansen, the greatest risk would be from a storage of it, from a leaker, and basically from a catastrophic event, such as a lightening strike, earthquake or an airplane crash into the igloos would be the greaterthat's a greater risk there than the plant, sir.
Mr. HANSEN. We've got a little problem out in Utah right now called the high level nuclear waste over the mountain from you folks who are up the valley, regarding the Goshute Indian Reservation. And one of the issues is what if a F16, a cruise missile, which has come relatively close, goes into that?
And let's take that situation and move it to Tooele, where we have it stored in bunkers and earthquake, some catastrophic thing happens, an airplane crashes. You have got a whole lot bigger problem there than I think you have got here. I mean, if I have said it very respectfully, but you couldor the same thing could happen in Anniston or any of these other areas, you would have a lot bigger problem.
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And I think the emphasis of this Committee is in no way, shape, or form try to stop the demiling of these things. The Committee, in my humble opinion, should be one that should move forward with the best technology we possibly have, the best safety we possibly have to make sure we get all of these things done and behind us as rapidly as we can. I would worry, Mr. Chairman, if we do anything that would be detrimental to moving forward in the demiling of these chemicals.
And I thank the chair.
Mr. HUNTER. I thank the gentleman.
And before we move to Mr. Riley, let me just ask if it is the consensus of the panel that the cause of this initial escape of this agent was the accumulation of particles from the cut-down of the weapons that kept the valve from fully sealing. Is there anybody that disagrees with that description of the cause?
Mr. ROWE. Mr. Chairman, if I may, that was the initiating event. The cause was the overdraft of the furnace and the low temperature in the afterburner. But the initiating event was, in fact, the gate would not shut.
Mr. HUNTER. Tell us what the difference between initiating event and cause is.
Mr. ROWE. Had a potential other kind of maintenance been performed that would have required a pressure control of the furnace to be done or another washing situation, there could have been other initiating events. However, correcting of that initiating event is important, so it is both those features.
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Mr. HUNTER. Okay. Are you satisfied that the actions that have been taken to remedy this have taken care of the situation beyond any doubt?
Mr. ROWE. Absolutely, sir. The corrective actions in all three layers of our defense will prevent this type of incident from most likely happening again, I believe.
Mr. HUNTER. Okay. Is there anybody in this panel that disagrees with that characterization to the effect that this has been handled?
Okay, Mr. Riley.
Mr. RILEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Could you tell me what happened to the strainer glove?
Mr. ROWE. After the event, sir?
Mr. RILEY. Where is it today? Did it fall down into the furnace?
Mr. ROWE. No, sir. We've removed it and put it into a storage area.
Page 62 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. RILEY. So, you're telling me that I have got a glove on the tipping valve that, just by pulling air over it, could actually end up-not the liquid itself, but just pulling air over a glove that has the liquid on it, could end up going through an $800 million facility and going out the smokestack.
Mr. ROWE. Yes, sir.
Mr. RILEY. Explain to meand this is one of the things that I think causes me and all of my citizens so much concern. We've spent $800 million building a plant that we were told had so many redundant systems that this could not happen. One valve closes, one valve malfunctions and everything else, all the other abatement programs seem to have failed. When one valve fails and you have an escape, I think we have a design flaw. Certainly, you can go back and fix it now, but let's walk through this.
NRC made a comment here that I picked up on last night. The Stockpile Committee of the NRC summarizes the need for additional emphasis on safety through the need for development of a safety culture at these facilities. NRC is saying that you're not taking safety as seriously as you should, and I think that that's probably best pointed out bywhat time did this event happen? When did you get your first alarm?
Mr. ROWE. I believe it was about 2330, sir.
Mr. RILEY. Which is 4:30?
Mr. ROWE. No, it was slightly before midnight.
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Mr. RILEY. No, no, no. When did the valve gate stick?
Mr. ROWE. The malfunction occurred around 1600 hours, about 4 in the afternoon.
Mr. RILEY. At 4 in the afternoon. What time does the shift change?
Mr. ROWE. Six p.m.
Mr. RILEY. Did the shift change?
Mr. ROWE. Yes, sir; it did.
Mr. RILEY. So, you're telling me you have got an alarm light saying that you have a problem, and you let that shift, who is the more experienced group go home, bring a less experience group in to deal with the problem that still did not get rectified until 1 in the morning. And if there is only a glove in there, this doesn't seem like that it would be that difficult to go in, pick up the glove, walk outside and understand what the problem is.
But I guess my point is, if it doesn't mean any more to the operations of the people who are running the Tooele facility to let one shift go home when they have a major problem on their hand, another one come in and have to accept that responsibility, I think the NRC is probably right, that you do not have a safety culture that you're going to need.
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And, again, it points out the problem I have with the design and engineering. When you can have a release without any liquid even being present, I think that your training has to be inadequate. And if this is an example of the redundancy of the systems that I have been told was in place all this time, I am highly skeptical that you may have another valve stick next week and cause a similar release.
If you had been processing the liquid itself, would there still have been just one water drop release, if you have been processing the liquid? We ended up with a release just by air going over a glove. What if you had been processing the liquid itself?
Mr. ROWE. There would have been no difference.
Mr. RILEY. How?
Mr. ROWE. Because, again, the inherent nature of the furnace is that, had we been processing at the time of the malfunction, all the residual material that was fed into the machine would have been destroyed long before the afterburner temperature getting too low to perform its function.
Mr. RILEY. So, you're telling me that if you had been processing the liquid, the afterburner would have destroyed it, but because this was on the top of the gate, it would not? That's somewhat hard to believe.
Or better yet, what would happen if there had been a cup of it spilled?
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Mr. ROWE. Again, this was during the restoration from a maintenance phase. There was a furnace system shutdown. There was a source of agent in the room that was not processing. So, at that point
Mr. RILEY. Well, let me ask you this
Mr. ROWE.the agent, regardless of how large or small, would not have been spilled again.
Mr. RILEY. How did you change the design from the original design?
Mr. ROWE. We have done several engineer fixes to this particular furnace, if I may point them out.
I have already very briefly described we put a feature in here that automatically washes this gate, that prevents this particular malfunction from happening in the future. However, to prevent the release path, we've done two very distinct modifications. The most important one is we've put a feature in the facility that controls the venturi pressure controller and the induced-draft fan damper, such that if the operator attempts to manipulate the controls to overdraft the furnace, the automated system will override those commands and reduce the flow from the furnace.
The second feature we've added is a feature where we've gone from a manual to an automatic, and in front of this afterburner we have installed an isolation valve. Historically, to isolate the toxic area from the afterburner, we would have to install a manual blank. That's essentially a disk that we put in the exhaust duct. We now have a valve that can be manipulated once it is unlocked from the control room so that if the furnace shuts down and the afterburner begins to cool prior to allowing any toxic vapors to get to the afterburner and beyond, we would isolate the afterburner, return it to normal temperature, and then recouple to the toxic area. So, the toxic portion of the treatment system is isolated from the afterburner any time it is not above 1,500 degrees.
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Mr. RILEY. Could you tell me why this type of problem could not have been anticipated?
Mr. ROWE. I believe it was anticipated, and
Mr. RILEY. Then why wasn't it repaired
Mr. ROWE.we had the opportunity to put that blank in prior to restarting the afterburner.
Mr. RILEY. Do you have a second isolation valve or kertz valve, or whatever you call it, in there now, in case one malfunctions another would override it?
Mr. ROWE. You're talking about the flow meter, sir?
Mr. RILEY. Yes, I guess.
Mr. ROWE. We have made a triple system of the flow. We measure flow in three ways, and the burner management system uses a two-out-of-three logic, meaning if one device malfunctions and shows low flow and the other two still show nominal flow, the burners will not lock out.
Mr. RILEY. Have you redesigned the other incinerators that are being built to this modification now?
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Mr. ROWE. I would have to default that to the program.
Ms. MAGGIO. I am sorry, sir, could you repeat the question?
Mr. RILEY. Do you plan on implementing this new modification into the incinerator in Anniston or the one at Umatilla?
Ms. MAGGIO. The remotely operated isolation valve is in the design for all of the follow-on sites, which includes Anniston, Umatilla and Pine Bluff. And it does exist. The lessons learned from the sprays that we're now adding to this are being put as part of our programmatic lessons learned program, and they're going to be evaluated when the facilities reach that level of maturity for them to be installed.
And that's what we're doing for most of ourthe lessons learned involving training. As the facilities mature and they have the work force coming on board, they will undergo the training, which we have incorporated into the lessons learned program.
Mr. RILEY. I would like to talk to you a little about how you changed your training in just a moment. But back to what my great friend, one of my best friends in Congress, Mr. Hansen said a moment ago, you do have more leakers than we have releases, I don't think there's any doubt about that. But would you say it is more dangerous to take a M55 rocket, saw it up into parts with the energetics, with the explosives, with the fuel, and with the gas, than it is to just let it sit there?
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Mr. ROWE. No, sir. I believe this is a safe and straightforward operation.
Mr. RILEY. That wasn't the question. Is it safer to encapsulate or repack a munition, leave it there, than it is to completely disassemble it? And if you tell me again that there's no difference, then I don't know why we spent $800 million building a facility.
Mr. ROWE. I firmly believe we should dispose of these, and it is
Mr. RILEY. I agree.
Mr. ROWE.safer to dispose of them than to store them.
Mr. RILEY. But I think we're comparing apples to watermelons here, not to apples to oranges, because what we're doing with these munitions, when we pick them up, bring them in, saw them apart, drain the munitions, have the potential of explosions, have the potential for any kind of catastrophic event and compare that to what we have had for the last 45 years where they just sit there and occasionally leak, I think, is not an accurate comparison.
Dr. FERRITER. Congressman Riley, again, we believe the greatest risk is the storage risk, and inside an igloo you could have the propagation from one projectile to another, and it is a greater risk to store them. Even though we have, as you have talked about, overpacked them into containers, we believe, again, the greatest risk is the storage of the projectiles and not the processing.
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Mr. RILEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HUNTER. I thank the gentleman for a very in-depth cross examination.
And I would now recognize another gentleman who has a lot of interest in this area, obviously, and a constituent interest, Mr. Walden.
Mr. WALDEN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I want to go back, follow up on what Mr. Riley said in one area, and it is a question I wrote down quite awhile back: Have the changes that have been outlined here to correct this problem in the design, have they been incorporated in the design for the new plants? I heard what you said, but I wasn't quite sure what I heard was what I want to hear, which is they're going to be evaluated as they go along. Are they actually going to be done?
I mean I need to go back to Umatilla, Oregon, and Hermiston and say, ''They figured out what went wrong here, and I can guarantee you it's going to be fixed as they finish this out, and it's 86 percent complete.'' I want to know status and a real, live confirmation.
Ms. MAGGIO. Yes, sir. We have a very active lessons learned program. This program is not a static type of thing where you learn something, put it in the database, and then, kind of, leave it. This is a program where we identify problems
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Mr. WALDEN. Right.
Ms. MAGGIO.we document it as part of the basis. We also ensure that the information is transferred to all of the sites and all of the contractors.
We also have a series of meetings where we call them together to discuss specific issues and what each site has learned. These things are continually happening and will continue to happen throughout the life of the program.
So, as we've made these changes, EG&G will have more experience as the continue operations. The results of that experience will also go into our lessons learned program.
Mr. WALDEN. Okay. Let me go back, though, and ask you directly: Have these changes outlined here dealing with the, what I would say, design flaw that's been recognized and corrected, have those specific changeshow will Umatilla be affected by what you have identified here? Have these changes been incorporated in whatever needs to be done to make Umatilla work?
Ms. MAGGIO. Those design items actually already existed, for example, the isolation valve. The items that involve the things like control interlocks, the facility isn't far enough long for those interlocks to be put into place, because it is 86 percent complete. As it gets further into completion, that information that we have taken from Tooele will be evaluated and applied to the sites.
Page 71 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. WALDEN. So, I can go back and say, ''What's been identified here as a problem will be fixed in the facility being built in Umatilla when it gets to the point of construction where these changes could be made that I have heard outlined today.''
Ms. MAGGIO. Yes, sir. It will be incorporated.
Mr. WALDEN. That's what I needed. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HUNTER. Thank you, Mr. Walden, and I want to thank you for your great interest in this issue and your work on behalf of your constituents.
And your last question, of course, was a very critical question. And the answer is yes, and I want to ask a few folks to expand on that.
Mr. Pitts. Okay.
Mr. Hansen, do you have another question? Go right ahead.
Mr. HANSEN. All right. If I may, Mr. Chairman, I have one very quick question that I, and my staff, have been trying to work out. And I will just read it.
As many of you are aware, the National Academy of Sciences performs a critical role in providing independent scientific review of the technology involved with this complex program. Now that the program has matured to a level of operation with several new facilities moving toward completion, what is your opinion on the need for or usefulness of a standing independent review panel to be formed to review operations and procedures at each of these plants? As I see it, this independent expert panel would provide timely reviews of incidents such as the one on May 8, but would also provide periodic spot inspections and assist in reviewing changes in procedures or design modifications.
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If I could just have a quick answer from somebody on that, I would appreciate it.
STATEMENT OF DAVID S. KOSSON, PH.D., CHAIR OF DEPARTMENT OF CIVIL AND ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING, PROFESSOR OF CIVIL AND ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING, PROFESSOR OF CHEMICAL ENGINEERING, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY
Dr. KOSSON. Thank you. I have not had the opportunity yet to go through my statement for you fine gentlemen, but if you had scanned ahead through that, one of the recommendations, from my personal perspective and from my experience with the program, was the thought to take a look at, longitudinally, the different events that have occurred and to recommend the actions that should be taken to have more rapid response to this, and also to make sure that we understand the root causes from a more general sense of what's been happening at these various facilities. There's been considerable discussion already about the technological issues and some of the mechanical failures. My personal perspective is that it also warrants equal, if not more, attention to the human-based systems that are involved as well.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Kosson can be found in the Appendix.]
Mr. HANSEN. Anybody else?
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Page 73 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HUNTER. Okay. Yes, Mr. Riley.
Mr. RILEY. Are the other panelists going to have an opening statement, or the
Mr. HUNTER. Yes. We're going to accept all the panelists' written statements into the record. And what we're going to ask them to do is tono, the ones that are before us right now, we've taken the statements from the folks who've already spoken. So, if you have questions for any other members, go ahead and ask those now.
Mr. RILEY. I do. One of the things that I would like to do is particularly thank Tim Garrett for being here today.
Tim gave me a tour of the Anniston facility a few weeks ago. He has a very unique ability in trying to define risk. And I asked him specifically to try to be here today so he could share his wisdom with us. I want to tell him personally how much I appreciate him being there.
He had a serious loss yesterday; he lost his brother. And I think it's above the call of duty for you to be here today, Tim. I want to tell you how much I appreciate that. I know the Committee does. And I want to offer my condolences, and I am sure all the panelists do. And our thoughts and prayers will be with you.
Mr. GARRETT. Thank you, sir.
Page 74 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. RILEY. Tim, if you could, you made some great observations to me when I was there. What Jim Hansen said a moment ago, that this was the size of a drop of water, that's exactly right. Can you give me something a little more definitive on what total amount of release it would take, in pounds, to have enough of a release to exit the depot?
Mr. GARRETT. Yes, sir. Based on the meteorological conditions, the average
Mr. RILEY. Pull your mike a little closer, please.
Mr. GARRETT.the standard meteorological conditions that we monitored for a year specifically at the site, you're looking at approximately 1,850 pounds of agent released at the stack that would result in a fatality to the community. And that's approximately 185 M55 rockets that would take you or I, sir, walking up the steps of the stack and pretending that it was Fourth of July, and that's almost, obviously, a physical impossibility.
Additionally, the motive force to be able to get an amount of agent through that system to impact the community out of the stack, it's a physical impossibility.
Mr. RILEY. So, basically, you're telling me that we had a water-drop-size release, but before we would have any fatalities or any exposure to anyone in Anniston, Alabama, it wouldn't take a drop, it would take over a thousand-pound release. Can you tell me what the most that you ever process at one time is?
Page 75 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GARRETT. That amount, sir, depends on the feed rate. I'd have to go back and look at what our feed rates are and provide that for you, sir.
Mr. RILEY. Give me
Mr. GARRETT. But it's minuscule.
Mr. RILEY. Give me a ballpark figure
Mr. GARRETT. We can process
Mr. RILEY.based on 1,000 pounds.
Mr. GARRETT.through the liquid incinerator, the pump on the liquid incinerator feeds at two gallons per minute, so it's nothing. We're talking, with the 1,850 pounds, 200 gallons of material.
Mr. RILEY. Okay.
Mr. GARRETT. So
Mr. RILEY. So, would it take a full day to process that?
Mr. GARRETT. We can process 600 rounds in the metal parts furnace, and in the liquid incinerator 1,050 pounds per hour. So it takes a significant number of munitions that just aren't available in the processing scheme in the facility.
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Mr. RILEY. So if it takes 1,000 pounds to get off of the reservation there, you're saying there is no possible way that you will ever be destroying that much chemical. So what you're saying is that it would be a physical impossibility to expose the Calhoun County residents to any type of
Mr. GARRETT. Through the stack, yes, sir. And that analysis does not include the pollution abatement features. That assumes that those are not functional. So, you know, if you consider the pollution abatement features, include the carbon filtration system that was added to Anniston, I mean, it really is extremely unlikely, yes, sir.
Mr. RILEY. Mr. Chairman, I know I am going too long, but if you would, and I think it is extremely important to this discussion, to explain what the carbon filtration system will mean to Anniston that Tooele does not have, and would the release that happened in Tooelecould it have occurred at Anniston?
Mr. GARRETT. If there were an operational carbon filtration system at Tooele that night it would have had the capability of capturing that release, yes, sir.
Mr. RILEY. So we have actually two additional safeguards at Anniston: We have the modification with the redundant systems put in place now, plus we have a carbon filtration system in the stack itself, or before the gas goes to the stack, to capture anything that the afterburner might not have destroyed.
Mr. GARRETT. That's correct, sir. And for the record, we're in the process, we've already added some of the things from the lessons learned at Tooele, the knife gate that you saw, sir, as well as the changes that will come down, we will add those as well.
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Mr. RILEY. The obvious question is: Why don't you put that in at Tooele?
Mr. GARRETT. I can't answer that, sir.
Mr. RILEY. Does anybody know why you don't have a carbon filtration system in Tooele?
Ms. MAGGIO. Yes, sir. When the carbon filtration system was being evaluated a number of factors were considered: the risk of storage versus the risk of the downtime for the installation, the overall risk numbers, and then we spoke with regulators in Aconset. The regulators were uncomfortable with that part of it. And there was also the question of the increased carbon because of the handling of the additional secondary waste.
So as a consequence, a number of decisions were madeand this was also endorsed by the National Research Councilto not put it in at Tooele, but to do it at the follow-on sites.
Mr. GARRETT. Okay. Thank you, ma'am.
Mr. RILEY. To the NRC, if you could answer one question.
And I promise, Mr. Chairman, this will be my last question.
Page 78 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC You say in your testimony that there's more exposure now because of carbon filtration system to the workers at the Anniston Armyor to this destruction facility. Is that true, and why?
Dr. KOSSON. No. Let me correct that, if I may.
When the NRC panel looked at the carbon filtration systems, there were several competing issues that we took into account when we came up to our recommendations. The first of those was the risk due to delay. Earlier there were commentaries about the amount of agent that's released due to leakage at the stockpile. From information that I have received, that estimate is about a million times more has been released from leakage at the stockpile to the atmosphere than was released from this particular incident. The Committee felt that the threat to the public health, the communities and to the workers were greater by delaying at Tooele than to stop operations and put on the carbon filtration unit.
Adding the carbon filtration unit, though, itself does not come without some consequences. As Ms. Maggio mentioned, you do have the added carbon that you have to handle, and you also have increased maintenance operations, and you increase the complexity of your system. Therefore, while you're preventing a certain series of events from occurring, you also introduce the possibility of other types of upset events occurring by having that there.
So in the bottom line from it we thought that it made sense to continue to include them at Umatilla and at Anniston. But at the same time, it did not make sense to stop operations and then to incur that additional risk of delay at Tooele.
Page 79 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GARRETT. Thank you.
Dr. KOSSON. This incident does not change that.
Mr. RILEY. Thank you, Doctor.
Mr. HUNTER. Okay. Thank you, Mr. Riley.
And thank you folks for bearing with us, since obviously some of the details here are quite important to our members of the Committee.
Dr. Kosson, do you have wrap-up remarks or observations you'd like to make on this particular incident?
Dr. KOSSON. I think in wrap-up, from what we've seen, there have been a number of very thorough investigations of this particular incident. There have been a number of issues that have been raised, both from the mechanical failures and technologies fixes, and also issues regarding training.
I'd like to emphasize that any system is not without opportunity for improvement, and that we should learn the lessons that we can from this, and any mechanical system or overall chemical agent demilitarization system is a combination of both the mechanical or technological systems and the human systems.
I think there would be significant benefit derived from looking across all of the various upset events that have occurred, both at JCADs and at Tooele, and the lessons to be learned from them and to look forward at ways to improve the systems from both the human system side, as well as the technology. Because the investigations to date of each incident focused primarily only on that incident, not across the comprehensive lessons learned, and we still have a long way to go in this program, though we've achieved quite a bit.
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Mr. HUNTER. Okay. Thank you. And the Committee will be following up on those issues.
And, Mr. Garrett, I wanted to let you know also, we really appreciate you being here and the sacrifice you have made, and we appreciate the tragedy you have experienced this week. Thank you for being with us.
And, folks, thanks. We've got two more panels to go withoh, oh, I am sorry. Mr. Waldon, did you have some follow-up questions?
Mr. WALDON. Just a very brief one, Mr. Chairman
Mr. HUNTER. Go right ahead.
Mr. WALDON.if I might, to Mr. Downs.
In your testimony, I believe you talked about, point number seven, operator training has been upgraded, a computer training simulator has been installed. Can you describe for me that process? And had there not been computer simulator training prior to this? Tell me, is this new, and what's it mean and
Mr. DOWNS. The Army might be able to give you a better or higher level of detail on that question, however, yes, there is simulator training, which takes place back here at Aberdeen Proving Ground at Edgewood, and this actually put a training module at Tooele Army Depot so they could use it there. I would suggest that perhaps one of the Army people would expand on that.
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Ms. MAGGIO. Yes, sir. We have a very detailed training program which does utilize simulators. The training program is centered at our headquarters in Edgewood, Maryland. And we bring the contractors, the operators, their supervisors back for that training.
As a result of the investigations into this incident, one of the recommendations was to install a local simulator. That would allow the operators, rather than having to make a trip back to Edgewood to undergo refresher training, that they can have more continual training. And we have sent those simulators to the site, and they will be at the other sites.
Mr. WALDON. I just have two follow-up questions on that. Had the operator involved in this incident who manipulated the air flows, had he been through simulator training? And does your simulatorI realize you probably couldn't anticipate every possible consequence, although you probably have, I would think, have most of them embedded in a systemdoes it have that kind of ''what if'' emergency, sort of, reactionwhat do you do if this happens, you do this?
Ms. MAGGIO. Yes. The simulator training does include contingencies or unusual circumstances, emergency responses. It did not have this particular chain of events, because there were so many different circumstances that were affected. But we do have that within the simulator and it will be located at the site.
Mr. WALDON. Okay. I just have one other question, Mr. Chairman, then I will stop as well.
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I think it was Mr. Garrett who was giving the details on how much of this chemical would have to be released straight out of the stack or whatever. Was that just in relationship to Tooele or Anniston, or would that apply to any of these facilities, given the different proximity of people living around the
Mr. GARRETT. No, sir, you'd have to look at the specific site, because it's based on the typical weather conditions for
Mr. WALDON. I see.
Mr. GARRETT.Anniston, Alabama, and the meteorological data that was collected near the site. So it would be different for each site based on that data.
Mr. WALDON. Does anyone happen to know, on the panel, what these numbers would be for the Umatilla site?
Ms. MAGGIO. We would take that for the record, sir.
[The information referred to can be found in the Appendix.]
Mr. WALDON. Okay. Thank you. Appreciate it.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Page 83 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HUNTER. Thank you, Mr. Waldon. And thank you for your hard work on the part of your constituents.
And, ladies and gentlemen, thank you, members of the first panel, for being with us.
And we're going to go a second panel. They're going to talk about the concerns of the local communities in which chemical demil facilities are located, with a particular emphasis on Tooele, where the release took place, and Anniston, the next site scheduled to become operational. And I know we have members here who would like to introduce their witnesses and witnesses from their district.
And so, Mr. Hansen, I'd say, Mr. Hansen, do you want to introduce any particular folks from your district?
Mr. HANSEN. I thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am honored to have with me people from the Tooele area: County Commissioner Gary Griffith, if you would come up, Commissioner and Kari Sagers, director of emergency management from Tooele. These folks have lived with this for a long time. They have gone through it. They know the problems out there.
One thing that I have got to compliment Utah on, that is different from other sites, is that Tooele is very cognizant and very aware of the necessity of the United States Army and the problems that they have. In fact, if you want to get in a fistfight, go out onto the streets of Tooele and take on the United States Army. They don't look forward to that like they do in some areas if you watch 20/20. They have been very grateful for it.
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And these people suffered big time when we had a turndown on losing Tooele North, which now the Army tells me was a mistake. I guess at the time we lost a $110 million consolidated maintenance facility, which we dedicated on Halloween and closed in January. But I won't go into that. And out of that we alsonow it's taken over by Detroit Diesel and they're doing well.
I just want to compliment my two friends from Tooele for being here with us and how active they have been in supporting the community.
Mr. HUNTER. I want to thank my friend, Mr. Hansen, for introducing you and we are glad you're with us. Look forward to your testimony. And also, I know Mr. Riley left with Mr. Garrett to talk to him for a few minutes, but I'd like to also ask the county commissioner of Calhoun County, Alabama, Mr. Henderson, to come on up, and also Mr. Mike Burney, director of emergency management, Calhoun County, Alabama. So if you gentlemen could come to the table, also.
Well, Jim, you have been working this issue a long time. And I am always impressed, Jim, with the great touch that you have with your congressional district and the many issues that you have, a few in common with San Diego, California.
Mr. Riley, if you have any particular things you'd like to say about your guests or witnesses from your district this morning, please go right ahead, sir.
Mr. RILEY. We have Mr. Eli Henderson, who is a good friend, commissioner of the Calhoun County Commission. He's the chairman of the commission at this time. And Mr. Mike Burney, who is in charge of our emergency management there.
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Both of them have some concerns that they have expressed to me before. I think their testimony will give all of us an opportunity to understand some of the real problems that we think we have in that community, and, at the same time, be able to compare it to Tooele, where you guys have been able to do this for a while.
So thank you both for coming up here. I really appreciate it and look forward your testimony.
Mr. HUNTER. Thank you, Mr. Riley, and without objection all written statements that had been prepared will be taken into the record.
And Commissioner Griffith, the floor is yours.
STATEMENT OF COUNTY COMMISSIONER GARY GRIFFITH, TOOELE COUNTY, UTAH, AND MEMBER, GOVERNOR'S CITIZENS ADVISORY COUNCIL
Mr. GRIFFITH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and Subcommittee.
Mr. HUNTER. And once again, too, for all witnesses, if you have got a written statement, we will take it into the record and feel free to summarize in as brief a manner as you wish, because we're going to try to finish up with this panel at about 35 or 40 after if we can, maybe a little earlier, and that will give us a chance to get the last panel in before we have to break for our next set of hearings.
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Mr. GRIFFITH. I will try to make my remarks very quick and Kari probably is going to be a little longer than I am.
As the county commissioner, I want to thank you for having us here. I'd like to, just briefly, just go through a couple of thoughts that are on my mind.
Several years ago, we, as a nation, developed these chemical weapons and we can second-guess those who did this and why they built them the way that they did. But maybe, just maybe, had they not done that, we wouldn't have the freedom to be sitting here in this hearing today. I think that it is important that we think about that.
Of course, over the years, better and more effective weapons have been developed leaving no need for these aging and deteriorating chemical weapons. They have been stored at eight sites across the country. One of these sites is in my county of Tooele, where almost 44 percent of that total stockpile has been stored for over 50 years.
You, the Congress, not Army, approved a treaty that you would have all the chemical stockpile destroyed by the year 2007. We, in Tooele County, want these weapons destroyed and tomorrow would not be too soon as far as we're concerned.
After that treaty was signed, it is my understanding the Congress tasked the Army with the responsibility to destroy these chemical weapons, and it offends me as a taxpayer and as an elected official that Congress continues to throw up roadblocks to stop the Army from doing their job. This is particularly concerning when Congress' decision seemed to be based purely on politics and emotions. I can appreciate political reasons being a consideration, being an elected official, but I think we need to go at what cost. We need to think at what cost. These actions result in the waste of millions of tax dollars and cause delays which increase the risk to the health and safety of my citizens in Tooele County.
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Besides being the Tooele County commissioner, I am a member of the Utah Citizens Advisory Commission over the chemical weapons demilitarization appointed by the governor of the State of Utah. This commission was established to provide oversight and to be a sounding board for citizens' concern. It is our responsibility to ensure, to the best of our ability, that the destruction of the chemical stockpile is done as safely and quickly as possible.
Commission members are not all trained experts on chemical weapons, chemical agents, quantitative health risks, baseline technology or even alternative technology. So it is been necessary for us to rely on the impartial, unemotional and scientific information provided to us by others. The Utah Department of Environmental Quality, the Centers of Disease Control and the National Research Council have been our main, untainted and unbiased source of this information. These are the same people I would recommend that you should listen to if you choose not to believe the Army. Their job is not to destroy the weapons, only to assure that whatever is done and however it is done, is safe: safe for the workers, safe to the general public and safe to the environment.
You seem to choose, however, to listen to those who are paid to oppose, and whose only real purpose is to disrupt and extend the process so that they can continue to have a job. They are never held accountable for their actions or what they say. When proven wrong time after time, they continue in their opposition regardless of the cost to the American taxpayers or to the risks of those of us who actually live by this stockpile.
A year or two ago, in response to the activists' concerns that the oversight was tainted, the Citizens Advisory Commission had an independent management study done. The study identified concerns of excessive external oversight, such as various third-party safety audits and inspections. I quote from that study when they said that the inspections and audits, ''tend to become increasingly redundant and duplicative of preceding studies, and at some point lose cost-effectiveness and become less likely to significantly improve safety. Clearly, some balance is needed in maintaining a level of oversight necessary to assure a very high level of safety yet not overwhelming the operational staff at the plant.''
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The Tooele Chemical Agent Disposal Facility is a very sophisticated and complex industrial plant. To believe that that facility can operate and never have any glitches, such as the May 8, would be totally unrealistic. The people at all levels, from the management to operation, are highly skilled, well-trained and dedicated workers. They need to continue their training, obviously. Yet, even these people could make a mistake.
To ensure the safety for all concerned, the plant has been built with several layers of redundancyand I have heard that questioned today, but I would say that it isand has the alarm and notification systems in place which we all heard went off. These provide additional protection. We have emergency response teams that are equipped and trained and ready to respond to any type of emergency should that continue to be a problem.
The activists sit and wait for anything to go wrong so they can say, ''I told you so.'' Maybe that applies to you guys. The proponents say that nothing is going to happen. On May 8, 2000, an incident occurred. They, the activists, said, ''I told you so.'' And I say, ''Nothing happened.'' No one was exposed to agent, no one was injured, the environment was not harmed. You be the judge of who was right.
Thank you for this opportunity to testify.
One last thing, as a member of the CAC, we talked about those carbon filters and it was emphasized that they did not work for us because of the extra problems. We don't have them now and we still don't want them. We want these agents destroyed and as quickly as possible.
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Mr. HUNTER. Thank you, Commissioner.
We have a vote on right now. We've got about nine and a half minutes left. My recommendation is we run and make that vote, and since we only have one, get back here as fast as possible and, Ms. Sagers, we will go right to you.
Mr. GRIFFITH. You're excused.
Mr. HUNTER. We will be right back. Thank you, sir. Commissioner, you can run this thing if you want to while we're gone. [Laughter.]
Mr. HUNTER. Ms. Sagers, the floor is yours.
STATEMENT OF KARI SAGERS, DIRECTOR OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT, TOOELE COUNTY, UTAH
Ms. SAGERS. Thank you.
The purpose of my testimony today is to discuss three separate, but related, issues: first, the release of chemical agent from the Tooele chemical agent disposal facility, the lack of timely notification of this release to off-post communities, and the status of the chemical stockpile emergency preparedness program in Tooele County.
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I'd like to address the facts surrounding the release first. I am not a technical expert, but when people hear that approximately 22 milligrams of agent escape the stack, the first reaction that I have received from almost every one of them is, ''So what does that mean?'' I don't have a feel for what that is and I guess I heard a little bit of that in our hearing this morning.
And so I'd like to thank Doug Duncan, who's the mechanical engineer at the disposal plant. He took the data and plotted it so that it could paint a picture of what escaped compared to some standard values that are used in the hazardous materials industry. It is not a real good chart, but that very first little tiny barI don't know, Wade, can you just point to that? I don't want to get anybody zapped. Thereright there.
A little teeny-tiny one represents one TWA, or Time Weighted Average. You could work in that level of agent, eight hours a day, 40 hours a week, and have no effects whatsoever for a lifetime.
The next bar is the allowable stack concentration. Wade's showing you that one. And then the next one represents the amount of agent released, and I know there's been considerable discussion on exactly how much was released, but the bottom of the graph is the lowest amount that's been published and the top of the graph is the highest amount that's been published.
Now, the next line is the ECT50. That's a technical term. It basically means that 50 percent of the exposed population would begin to show mild signs and symptoms, such as watery eyes, running nose. Those are real mild signs. And so for reference, that is calculated over a 30-minute exposure and the TWA that I talked about, the safe level, is about a 10th of an inch. This measures about 67 inches comparatively speaking.
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Now the next bar is the IDLH level and that's immediately dangerous to life and health. At this level, you would have approximately 30 minutes to escape the area or get out before you would become incapacitated or suffer irreversible health defects.
Mr. HUNTER. Okay. Now, but one problem is those barsbecause you don't have, apparently, a longer chart, they all look like they're the same length.
Ms. SAGERS. We're going to talk about that.
Mr. HUNTER. Okay. So it looks like you have got arrows that go on up with the second bar.
Ms. SAGERS. Right.
Mr. HUNTER. Now, does that go to the moon? Is that going to be your next point? [Laughter.]
Ms. SAGERS. That IDLH bar would be a total of 16 feet 8 inches, so it is an additional 11 feet, I believe11 feet 1 inch to the top of that paper. And I don't know if you canthat's that one right there.
Mr. HUNTER. Okay.
Page 92 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. SAGERS. Okay. Now
Mr. HUNTER. With that extended up, that would extend up to abouta point about 10 feet below the ceiling of this room probably. Go up about 16 feet.
Ms. SAGERS. I would say that's a very good estimate.
Mr. HUNTER. Okay.
Ms. SAGERS. Now, typically, you're not going to hang around for 30 minutes if you know that there's an agent level that high. So you're going to get out of there. But, I thought 30 minutes was a good comparison because that's the level that the IDLH is figured in the hazardous materials industry and also the release occurred over approximately 24 minutes. So it is a real good comparison to be able to look at that as compared to the release that you saw.
Now the last bar is the LCT50 which is the amount that would be lethal for 50 percent of the exposed population. And that's the very last one there and that continues on from that paper an additional 194 feet 2 inches.
Now, the Capitol rotundaI looked this up on the Internet so it better be rightis 180 feet. So this bar would be a little more than 14 feet higher than the Capitol rotunda.
So I guess I just want you to look for a minute-Wade, maybe you could hold that bottom back upif you look at the TWA of what is safe, in comparison to what would be fatal or kill someone, than you can maybe judge the significance of that release, which is the third one over there.
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Mr. HUNTER. Okay. And the release is the third one from the left, or, if you can see theobviously the long bar is better, it is the fourth one from the right.
Ms. SAGERS. Yes, that's correct.
Mr. HUNTER. Okay.
Ms. SAGERS. Okay. Thank you.
Mr. HUNTER. Okay. And let me compliment you and your fellow exhibitors on a very good description ofa very good placing of this release in context.
Ms. SAGERS. Thank you.
Mr. HUNTER. Although you understand, a lot of the concern from the folks that are candidates for this citing isn't necessarily that only a little bit got out this time, but that you have a system in place that doesn't fail when there's a larger amount of agent that could possibly be released.
Ms. SAGERS. I understand that fully, and I am
Mr. HUNTER. But very excellent presentation.
Page 94 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. SAGERS. Thank you. I have got just a little more. The next issue I want to just talk about it what did and didn't occur on the night of May 8 and into the early morning hours of that next day relative to notifications that should have happened to Tooele County.
Now, the alarm occurred at 11:26, as I understand it. The stack alarm was reported to the Deseret Chemical Depot Emergency Operations Center. However, at the time of the alarm, no agent was being processed, as we've discussed, and plant personnel reasoned that the alarm must have been triggered by an unknown contaminant, which could be any variety of common products of combustion or cleaning solvents or anything that triggered these alarms.
But under established guidelines, Deseret Chemical Depot Emergency Operations Center personnel would have provided what we call a heads-up call immediately; as soon as there is an alarm reported they give us this heads-up call. Then, once it is been confirmed or non-confirmed by either a laboratory analysis or another detection device, then they call back with a follow-up call and say, ''Okay, that was confirmed the agent presence was there or non-confirmed.''
But on that night the initial notification didn't take place until the confirmation of agent, and we were notified about four hours later, at 3:32 a.m.
Now, the agent release constituted a limited area event, which basically means that the agent did escape into the atmosphere, but it would not have traveled beyond that chemical limited area. And the only action that's required from Deseret Chemical Depot for a limited area event is to contact our county sheriff's dispatch center and then let me know that a limited area event has been declared and just give them some of the pertinent information about the incident.
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The dispatcher, in turn, makes two notifications, one to me and one to the sheriff. It's basically for information's sake. And then, as a courtesy, I notify our county commissioners, my staff and the state Division of Comprehensive Emergency Management.
And really the primary reason for making any off-post notifications, especially to those officials, is just to enable them and other agency representatives to respond effectively and openly to media representatives, citizens or others who may contact them with questions about the incident. And when they call and say, ''Did you know that this and this and this happened?'' you can say, ''Yes, we knew exactly what happened.'' That puts a lot of fears to rest.
But I just want to emphasize, no off-post emergency response actions were required or are required for a limited area event.
Now, had I received that heads-up call at about 11:30 that night, no further action would have taken place until the second call providing the confirmation. It is important that the Committee again understand that there would have been no public safety responder notification, no community alerts, no required protective action such as evacuation or in-place sheltering, no mobilization of hospitals or other medical facilities. This incident did not pose an off-post threat to the citizens and therefore didn't merit an off-post emergency response.
Tooele County believes that the delay of notification resulted from an error in judgment on the part of employees working with Deseret Chemical Depot in the Emergency Operations Center.
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Now, this doesn't mean that Tooele County takes the delay in notification lightly, nor do we excuse Deseret Chemical Depot for failing to notify the county in a timely manner. Protocols for early notification have been developed between on-post and off-post communities, and are essential to safeguard the health and safety of the citizens residing near the stockpile site. Without notification in a timely, succinct and professional manner, emergency plans, procedures and protocols are for naught.
DCD has a well-established history of providing Tooele County with timely notification of chemical and nonchemical events that happen at Deseret Chemical. Tooele County acknowledges DCD's assertion that the delay of notification may have been the mistake of one employee. Furthermore, we agree with DCD officials that the error was very serious in nature. However, we accept as fact that an error did occur and we have worked with them in making certain that appropriate measures have been instituted to preclude further delays in the notification process.
The third and final area I will address is the effectiveness of the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program in Tooele County. Millions of federal dollars have been allocated and spent through this program to assure the safety and well-being of people residing in chemical stockpile areas. Sophisticated and highly specialized equipment has been purchased, installed and is operating effectively, at least for Tooele County's site. Training programs and support processes and resources are in place to support the protection of the public.
As evidenced by General Accounting Office audits, Department of Army and FEMA reviews and full-scale exercises, the federal dollars received by Tooele have been used judiciously and effectively to ensure the safety and welfare of the public from an on-post chemical event.
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In conclusion, I ask that it be noted for the record that our primary concern at this point in the chemical weapon demilitarization process is that the business of destroying obsolete and decaying chemical weapons be resumed and completed in a timely manner.
The fact remains that with each passing day these obsolete weapons continue to leak chemical agent into the environment. Leaking weapons have emitted literally millions times more chemical agent into the atmosphere than the incident that we are discussing here today.
We strongly support the Army and defense contractor EG&G in their respective missions to destroy these aging and obsolete weapons. A mistake was made and lessons have been learned. It's the express opinion of the elected and appointed officials of Tooele County that it is in our county's and in the nation's best interest to move forward with a strengthened resolve to destroy these munitions in a safe and timely manner.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Sagers can be found in the Appendix.]
Mr. HUNTER. Well, thank you, Ms. Sagers.
And Commissioner Griffith, thank you for your statement. And I really appreciate it.
Page 98 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I want you to know, I have been working with your Congressman, Mr. Hansen, for 20 years, and you've got one of the most articulate, eloquent and respected members of Congress representing a big piece of Utah, and I want you to know we appreciate you sending that kind of quality up to be with us, along with the rest of your delegation. Thank you very much.
And, Commissioner Henderson and Director Burney, we wouldn't be having this hearing if it wasn't for your member of Congress, Bob Riley, who is really a fighter for your community and a guy who isthis is a serious thing and attention to detail is extremely important, which to some degree is the thrust of some of the technical description of what occurred here. So I want you to know you've got a real advocate working to protect your community.
And we appreciate that fact that you've taken a lot of time from your schedule to prepare for this and come up here, and you've got some great folks in your community. We are concerned about them. I want you to know the Committee is sensitive to their concerns.
And, Commissioner, the floor is yours.
STATEMENT OF JAMES ELI HENDERSON, CHAIRMAN, CALHOUN COUNTY, ALABAMA COUNTY COMMISSION
Mr. HENDERSON. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate you inviting us up here, and I appreciate those kind remarks that you made about me and my colleague here. Bob Riley there is a super guy, just as you mentioned.
Would it be out of order at this point in time if I asked several of my people from Alabama that are hereand we very much admire our Congressmancould we give him a round of applause, do you suppose?
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How about it, guys? Everybody from Alabama.
Thank you, thank you, Congressman. I was
Mr. HUNTER. That may be an embarrassment, Bob. That may be.
Mr. HENDERSON. We've been
Mr. HUNTER. May be illegal.
Mr. HENDERSON. We think a lot of Bob Riley. You know, all the areas I was going to mention relative to our problems in Calhoun County he's already covered, and it makes me wonder if perhaps maybe he spent the night last night in a Holiday Inn Express. He seems to have all the answers. But Bob is good, and we very much appreciate him and respect what he's done for us.
Real quick like, some of the other areas that he didn't cover wereand I think you guys have got the same problems relative to the things that we're going to mention. The bureaucracy of the federal government is killing us. We have so many new problems.
The Anniston Army Depot went to 24-hour manning probably three years ago. The only thing wrong with that problem is there's nobody on the other line, our line to answer the call. We would very much like to have 24-hour manning of the EMA office. Mr. Burney would very much appreciate that, and we feel like that's a simple task. And yet it has taken us up to this point, and we are still talking about that issue. We really need 24-hour manning. They need to have someone to call in case we have an accident and such that happened at Tooele, Utah. At the present time, there is nobody there to answer the call.
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The other points I would like to bring up include the fact that, in our program, we have been planning for evacuation for many years. The latest guidelines that we have gotten from the Army and from the FEMA people are telling us that we have got to go through by the IEM studies. The IEM studies indicate that almost all of us are going to have to stay at home and shelter in place. That's going to be a tough sell.
And, again, it is not really our responsibility as the county commission. Our responsibility primarily is to fix roads and bridges, potholes, those type things. We're only part-time. I am serving as full-time at this point in time simply because we rotate the chairmanship.
But on the other side of that coin is this thing is eating me alive. I have been there six years. I cannot tell you how much time and effort that we have spent with the bureaucracy of the federal government trying to work out some of the simple things that we need to do.
I understand and I very much am supportive of the program and where we're at today. I think we should build an incinerator. I was the first guyand I think Congressman Riley will tell youthat paid for the bumper stickers, and that is my idea, that is my slogan: Build it, burn it and forget it. I think that's the best way to go.
The other side of that coin is we have just got to have some protection for the people that we serve. It is going to be a tough sell going out there and telling these senior citizens that, ''You are going to have to shelter in place, that you have got to go outside your home, you have got to make a window of opportunity. Please go outside and take your yellow tape and your plastic, cover your vents, go back inside your house.'' It's going to be a tough sell for us. And Mr. Riley and I both agree that's going to be a tough sell. I don't know how we're going to do that. It's just almost an impossible task.
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There are so many issues at hand here that I can't cover all of them. Those two are very important to us.
The other thing that I thought my colleague from Utah brought up, Mr. Griffith, was the fact that certainly they want to continue burning. They have been down four months. Possibly one of those reasons is every time they burn something, they get paid. We would very much like to be in that situation.
I see Congressman Hansen up there, sort of, smiling a little bit. Not a bad idea there that you had earlier, Mr. Congressman, shipping all of our munitions to your location. Maybe that's not a bad idea. We might want to look at that, Congressman, down the road. And we have discussed that at length.
Again, I appreciate all the things that you guys are trying to do. I know it is a tough sell. I want to ask you one thing: If you could try to eliminate maybe one of the entities that we have to do business with. It's so tough to deal with FEMA and the Army and the Congress. It's justand you guys know that. I don't have to explain that to you. But we need some help, and we'd very much appreciate that.
It seems like things change on a daily basis. The toxicity levels: We used to think at one time that they were much lower than what they are. We understand now that they're much higher. There's a possibility, as Ms. Sagers brought up.
And the main thing that our Congressman alluded to earlier was the fact that we're not in Utah, we don't have 400 people in a 12-mile or 10-mile radius. I worked at the Anniston Army Depot for many, many, many years. We have got 5,000 peopleor we had 5,000 then. We have probably got 4,000 people there now. We have got a ton of people there working. We are going to burn this agent. We are not going to shut the depot down, we are going to continue to burn. And these people are all going to be at risk. And I understand that we have tried to cover all the fail safes that we can, but any time we have got humans operating equipment, we have got a problem.
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Recently, I was reading where the airplane that went down in Pittsburgh a couple of years ago killed over 200-something folks, the pilot simply made an error. He went the wrong way. He had been flying planes for many years. Over 200 people perished in that accident.
We have probably got the best, I think, incinerator ever built in Anniston, Alabama. I support that very much. But we're going to have humans operating that facility.
We have got tons of people adjacent to the facility. We have got a lot of people that live at the gate's edge right there. Those people need to be compensated somewhat. If I am not mistaken, I think they are holding a march there this morning, but somebody, somewhere up where you guys are can make it happen. You guys look at the problems and find out what we can do. But it is a problem and it affects all of us.
Again, I appreciate you guys listening to me. Appreciate you, Congressman. You've done an outstanding job. And any way you guys can help us, we'd very much appreciate it. Thank you very much.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Henderson can be found in the Appendix.]
Mr. HUNTER. Thank you, Commissioner. We will workI know the bureaucracy is cumbersome, and it is tough to get folks to sometimes get them to work together. And any time we have those bumps in the road, one thing Bob Riley can do and does is call a meeting and we try to get the representatives from the various agencies together. And the Committee is sensitive to that. And we will try to work with you to make things flow a little smoother than they have been in the past.
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Mr. HENDERSON. Mr. Chairman, also, I was in the United States Marine Corps, and I tell everybody, a lot of my fellow armed services members, that the Marine Corps wins all the wars. If it hadn't been for your mom and the United States Marine Corps, nobody would be here. I know that much.
Mr. HUNTER. You know, my father is a marine, and he tells me that about every day. [Laughter.]
But thank you very much, Commissioner.
STATEMENT OF MICHAEL J. BURNEY, DIRECTOR, CALHOUN COUNTY, ALABAMA, EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY
Mr. BURNEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Before I start, I will read a prepared statement, but I do want to comment on my colleague, Kari Sagers. I had the pleasure of serving as an evaluator in their annual CSEPP exercise, as a matter of fact, last week. So, I worked with Kari in her EOC during that exercise. She does an excellent job. Chairman Griffith does an excellent job working with her. They have an excellent relationship with their depot and everyone involved. And I would love to have that situation.
Page 104 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Unfortunately, my situation is different, and I am going to try to detail some of the differences there for you.
Mr. Chairman, my name is Michael A. Burney. I am the executive director of the Calhoun County EMA. We are attempting to work with the Army and FEMA to provide maximum protection to the public during the storage and destruction of the chemical weapons stockpile at Anniston Army Depot. This has been an extremely difficult task and has become much more complex as a result of the leak at Tooele incinerator and by the release of a protection action guideline book which contradicts everything our agency has planned for the past 11 years. And this is that book. Mr. Chairman, if I could ask you to enter this into the record also.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Burney can be found in the Appendix.]
Mr. HUNTER. Without objection, we will take that in the record.
Mr. BURNEY. We face a series of extremely difficult and pressing issues. When the incinerator failed at Tooele, there were less than 400 people residing in the immediate response zone, a distance of roughly nine miles from the stockpile. The nearest population center was some 30 miles away. By contrast, Calhoun County has more than 75,000 people within the immediate response zone and another 46,000 people in the protective action zone. If the Anniston incinerator has a major leak, there will be an event of catastrophic proportions.
The proximity of our population to the incinerator is one problem. A second problem is our apparent inability to evacuate in the event of an emergency. For the past 11 years, we have worked hard to educate the local population about the incinerator and the chemical weapons stockpile. We have attempted to plan for evacuation and to collectively protect as many facilities as we feel cannot be evacuated. We have begged the Army for guidelines about the type of program we should follow. Not once during this 11-year period did the Army suggest we would not be able to evacuate.
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Now that the incinerator is almost complete, the Army has provided us with a very complex protective action guideline. This report contradicts all of our efforts and suggests we should tell our citizens to stay in their houses. Do the members of this Subcommittee realize what an impossible situation that would be?
A third problem is the lack of accurate information on the toxicity of the agents stored at AAD. Although the Army has a duty to provide the maximum protection possible to the general public and environment, the Army continues to refuse to deal with the recommendations in the 1998 National Research Council report.
I also have that report, Mr. Chairman and would like to ask you to enter that into the record.
[The information referred to can be found in the Appendix.]
The 1998 National Research Council report, which concludes the Army has significantly underestimated the toxicity of these agents. Given that the Army now admits that we cannot evacuate our citizens in most situations, the questions about the toxicity of the agents stored at the Anniston Army Depot becomes critical.
A fourth problem is the recent change in the Army's position regarding exposure to agents in the event of an emergency. Before the release of the IEM report, the Army always assured me and others that we would be able to structure a program to ensure a no-exposure policy was achieved. Now, this report says that in the event of a major leak at Anniston Army Depot, our citizens will be exposed to agents but not at levels which will kill them. Now that the Army has changed its position on exposure, I am extremely uncomfortable telling our citizens that we will be able to protect them.
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I appreciate the risks associated with continued storage of these agents at the Anniston Army Depot. The risks are real, but we also must understand that once the munitions are removed from the igloos for incineration, the likelihood of an accident due to handling will increase. The events at Tooele show the technology has many problems and human error remains a variable that can never be eliminated. Therefore, the manner in which we proceed is critical.
Mr. Chairman, Calhoun County still lacks the following items that we feel are vital if we are to have a chance of protecting our citizens: Number one, we lack 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week staffing for the emergency operation center necessary to meet the warning time requirements.
Number two, Anniston Army Depot personnel currently are unable to activate warning devices in areas closest to the stockpile. This is an extremely dangerous situation.
Three, Calhoun County continues to have an incomplete indoor and outdoor warning system.
Four, we still do not have a single integrated computer response system for use by the Anniston Army Depot, the state and local officials. Without a single system to use for planning and responding to emergency, there is a greater likelihood for serious failure.
Number five, Calhoun County continues to have incomplete collective protection where it is required. We have asked for 38 structures to be collectively protected. The IEM study only calls for seven.
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Six, the Army has not endorsed a protective action strategy for our county or region.
Seven, the Army has failed to provide the public with a conclusive risk assessment. I think that is the key element in this list of items. And I will read that one again. The Army has failed to provide the public with a conclusive risk assessment.
Eight, the Army has failed to commit to use the current protective action recommendations as evaluated by their own contractors.
Nine, Calhoun County lacks proper medical response capability. Our hospital could not handle any emergency that involves more than a few dozen victims, even though 75,000 people reside within the immediate response zone.
Ten, there is no regular structured training program for the emergency response community.
All of these deficiencies deal with our response to an accident at the Anniston Army Depot. And, unfortunately, the problems of recovery and re-entry, should we have to deal with a leak, are equally problematic and much further away from being resolved.
The Army and FEMA have been so tied up fashioning a viable response system that the problems of recovery and re-entry have been swept under the rug. The Army's position has been there will never be an accident that would require real recovery and re-entry planning, therefore the Army and FEMA have given little attention or support in meeting these very important requirements.
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Instead of wishing the problem away, we must have a proper recovery and re-entry program in place long before any incineration begins at the Anniston Army Depot. This is doubly important given the Army's recent admission that our citizens will not be able to evacuate. The problems associated with incinerator technology only heighten the concern. Recovery and re-entry has been ignored for a long time. It cannot be ignored any longer.
In June, the commissioners and I met with Dr. Patton and her team in the aftermath of the leak at Tooele. At that time, a special assistant to the Secretary of the Army, told us, ''The objective is to have zero fatalities. That does not mean we won't have exposure.'' That statement clearly summarizes the current status of these federal programs that are supposed to provide maximum protection to our citizens and the environment.
Surely, we can do much better than that. If the federal government cannot, it raises some very serious questions about where the Army's chemical demil program and the CSEPP program are headed.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. And I will answer any questions that you might have.
Mr. HENDERSON. Okay. Thank you, Director Burney. And one service that we can provide with this hearing is that if you have questions that haven't been answered and some facts that you need from the Army or from other agencies, provide those for the record and the Committee will see to it that you receive the answers.
Page 109 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BURNEY. Thank you, sir.
Mr. HENDERSON. So why don't you list those out and we will get those to you.
Mr. SISISKY. Because of the time, I do have questions but I will reluctantly not ask them.
Mr. HENDERSON. Mr. Hansen.
Mr. HANSEN. Mr. Chairman, I know you have got another meeting coming up. Let me just quickly ask Commissioner Mr. Griffith: How's your relationship with the Army? How does the county commissioner get along with county?
Mr. GRIFFITH. Good.
Mr. HANSEN. I always like a brief answer.
Mr. GRIFFITH. I can make it longer and would love to.
Mr. HANSEN. No, that's okay. What would the county government's thought be when this is done? They have got a third of it done. These guys are working ahead. Pretty soon I wonder if we won't have anybody to sue. What do you then?
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Mr. GRIFFITH. You mean as far as the
Mr. HANSEN. Well, wait a second. What would be your suggestion to do with this huge, expensive facility out there? I know
Mr. GRIFFITH. We have already started dialoguing that.
But let me go back to your first question, Jim, Congressman Hansen, if I may. We have sat down with each of the colonels as they have come in, and the other people that work with them, and have asked them to make sure that they are always square with us. One of the things that we have heard, and I am sure you guys hear, too, somewhere back in the past, the Army lied to someone. And I am sure when you say Army, that's an individual within the Army. So we have asked the people that we work with, ''Just be straight with us, tell us the truth.'' And we expect things are going to happen and so you are notyou know you hate to tell someone something and then get beat up on for it. You have a tendency to not do that. We have asked them and they have, to the best of my knowledge, told us everything, even what they didn't want us to hear. But that allows us to develop the confidence in them not withholding something from us.
My honest belief is that that has occurred in my tenure there in our dealings with the Army. We, in turn, have told them and we have been able to keep that kind of a relationship going of trust.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you, Commissioner. Seeing it, kind of, bothers me a little bit, as we're building all these multi-million-dollar facilities, and then, according to how the plan is, they are going to be destroyed at the end of this. I have now seen some concern from a lot of other areas saying, ''We don't know about that.'' Did you folks give it any long-range planning or thinking or suggestions you may have for Congress or the military?
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Mr. GRIFFITH. We have always thought of that dialogue with some of the Army people, with the idea that to take this back to grass is as was the original thingand I understand that's been modified now to where they could look at possibly turning that over to a county. We have looked at it even in for a situation using our municipal waste and some other areas. It would be, in our estimation, foolish to waste that kind of a facility.
The concern by those who oppose this is that it would be used for non-stockpile items, and I would even throw that out as maybe being a potential ''Why not?''
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HENDERSON. Mr. Riley.
Mr. RILEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Ms. Sagers, in your testimonyand if you can, I made just a little clarification. You say additionally, since May the 9th, 2000, there have been 64 alarms reported at Tooele with an average notification time of 5.3. Now that notification time is fine. I didn't think you'd been processing since May.
Ms. SAGERS. Yes, the plant has been processing, not in the deactivation furnace but other agent. Someone correct me if I am wrong. We have been processing, I believe it is, 10 containers and projectiles. So it is just been the deactivation furnace that was not up and processing.
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Mr. RILEY. In four months, if you have 64 different alarms, do you get to the point that you consider the alarms almost unimportant?
Ms. SAGERS. No, we really don't. We have almost a constant dialogue with Deseret Chemical Depot.
Mr. RILEY. One of the things that has given me a little pause of concern is how long it took to notify when you did have a release out there. And the more people that I talk to, there seemed to be a consensus of opinion that they have so many stack releases that you get to the point that you don't think any of them are critical or that you don't believe your reading. Can you tell me anything that we can do to stop or eliminate these false positive readings that we continue to get? Or has anyone told you?
I know if I was the operator and I was getting four or five calls a day with an alarm and this went on for two or three months, I would probably get to the point that I would not place the same degree of importance on it that I would if there was one a year. And maybe that is a technical question, but in your role, I don't understand how you can keep from getting somewhat blase about having 64 different alarms in four months. And this is when you are not even running the deactivation furnace.
Ms. SAGERS. That is correct. I am not a technical expert so I don't know how to reduce the amount of alarms.
Mr. RILEY. Is it continuing?
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Ms. SAGERS. Because it is a toxic environmentI mean, it is pretty bad stuff they are processingthere are going to be alarms. Most of them are in toxic areas where they expect to see it.
We have an information exchange memorandum of understanding where we have identified times that we would be notified. And if it has escaped primary engineering controls but is still yet under secondary engineering controls, it is in those cases that we could wait until it is confirmed or nonconfirmed that it was agent presence, but that still would be within a contained within the facility or within a filtered igloo or whatever.
But we take our job very seriously, and so, I guess no matter what you do, you could become blase of something that's over and over again, but we have a constant dialogue with Deseret Chemical Depot. We exercise with them with their monthly chemical accident incident responder systems exercises, and we choose to focus on different areas, maybe communications one time, talking with our policy people another time. But we do not get blase or haven't yet in 11 years gotten blase over leaker reports or calls on alarms. We have a notification hotline that is a direct line and we take that call very seriously.
Mr. RILEY. Basically, the number and the degree of alarms has not changed over the last four or five months? You are still getting constant. When you get down to you are talking about four or five a week, I mean, it seems likeI read last night that there were 30 stack emission alarms. Is that true? I mean, that is, kind of, a last resort. If you can't believe a stack emission alarm, what would you believe?
Page 114 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. SAGERS. I don't have the exact number on what a stack emission or what, but I will tell you that the majority of the alarms are storage area alarms leaking into the atmosphere rather than being contained within the facility.
Mr. RILEY. Could you take a storage alarm more or less seriously than you would a stack emission alarm?
Ms. SAGERS. Pardon? I didn't hear the first part.
Mr. RILEY. I asked would you put more credibility into a stack emission or would you proceed with your notification any differently if you got a stack emission alarm report or a storage release alarm?
Ms. SAGERS. I take them both seriously. However, in the storage area, there is usually a much larger quantity of agent involved. I mean, up to 10 gallons just a couple of months ago spilled in an igloo floor, 10 gallons of GB. And that emits a lot more into the atmosphere than anything we're talking about with the plant. I feel that there are some very important, redundant and safe systems in the plant and so I am more concerned about the storage. I will admit that.
Mr. RILEY. Mr. Henderson, I'm going to give you four scenarios, I would like for you to tell me if this is what you were told as a commissioner. One, that this plant is built with redundant qualities and that it would never leak.
Mr. HENDERSON. Repeat that question, Congressman, if you would, please.
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Mr. RILEY. Were the people of Calhoun County told that, once this facility was built, that a leak would not be a possibility?
Mr. HENDERSON. Yes.
Mr. RILEY. We had CSEPP spend the last 11 years developing a program to evacuate Calhoun County; is that right?
Mr. HENDERSON. Yes, sir.
Mr. RILEY. And now, we have a totally different policy after 11 years that says, ''We can't evacuate, so we're going to ask you to close the windows and turn off the air conditioners and sit down and pray''?
Mr. HENDERSON. Thank you, Mr. Congressman. It is correct again.
Mr. RILEY. Is that right? Were the people of Calhoun County told in no uncertain terms that impact fees would be paid to Calhoun County? The answer to that question's yes.
Mr. HENDERSON. Anything I might say mayI will plead the fifth on that one.
Mr. RILEY. Well, I can say with an absolute degree of certainty that I was told that Calhoun County would be paid impact fees. Now the Army has said that they don't have the ability to do it.
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And fourth, were we told that there would never be a discussion of whether non-stockpile weapons would be destroyed in Calhoun County?
Mr. HENDERSON. We said the only non-stockpile munitions that would be destroyed would be the ones on site.
Mr. RILEY. If all of this was true, I go back to my original statement, that what was at once a probably fairly positive response in Calhoun County to the building of this incinerator and to the eventual removal of these weapons, has turned into a credibility problem that nobody in Calhoun County trusts, believes or respects the Army's opinion on the ultimate outcome of this facility and CSEPP. Would that be a fair assessment?
Mr. HENDERSON. That would be correct.
And in addition to that, Mr. Congressman, I would like to add that my best friend and fishing buddy, my fellow high school band director, Jeff Leonard, and his family recently moved from our community simply because he was afraid of what the Army was saying and what they weren't saying about the incinerator and the same issues that you bring forth here today. There is a distrust.
At one time, you are exactly right. We wanted to do the right thing, we wanted to build it, burn it and forget it, and at this point in time you are exactly right, the people feel unsafe.
Page 117 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In addition to that, our high school last year had the lowest graduation rate ever probably since I graduated and I was in the first graduating class. We had 77 kids. We dropped down from a 5A to 4A school, so that definitely has had an impact on our community, Congressman. And I am certainly glad that you are pulling that out. But you are exactly right.
Mr. RILEY. Mr. Burney, if I could just make one comment. If we cannot evacuate the people of Calhoun County, essentially 70,000 people, and there is an incident, what do you do? You are the expert.
Mr. BURNEY. Sir, today, the only thing that we have trained our public to do is evacuate. The only thing we can do is try to create an orderly evacuation by zone and hope that we can make that work. We would like to have some answers from the Army on what type of sheltering to provide for our citizens so we can start working on that. I have asked for money over the last six years to start developing a shelter-in-place policy that has been denied every year and has been denied in the 2001 budget.
Mr. RILEY. My understanding that there's been over $100 million spent on the CSEPP program in Alabama, and you are telling me after $100 million and 11 years, today we do not have a program in place to protect the people of Calhoun County?
Mr. BURNEY. Yes, sir, that is what I am telling you.
Mr. RILEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HANSEN. Can you yield?
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Mr. RILEY. Sure.
Mr. HANSEN. Mr. Burney, I think the gentleman from Alabama brought up a very interesting point. Where do you store it?
Mr. BURNEY. Where do
Mr. HANSEN. Where do you store your present things that are waiting to be demiled after you get your plant done?
Mr. BURNEY. The chemicals are stored in igloos on the depot.
Mr. HANSEN. The testimony that is been given so far in this Committee, it seems to me, and especially Mrs. Sagers, she talks about her area, most of them are from where it is being stored, not from the plant. And if I am seeing that thread go through the testimony, that seems to be testimony everybody is coming up with.
So basically, there is more danger now, and the gentleman from Alabama worries about that you haven't got a way to protect these folks. It seems to me that you are sitting there on a real powder keg with what can happen in your leakers.
Now as long as we have been doing this thing around here, every time we play this game, we always hear, ''We're really worried about these things being stored because they just don't sit there.'' It's not like taking a 3030 bullet and putting it in your gun case, and it will be there in 50 years. This stuff leaks.
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And she points out, correctly, the majority of her things was storage. So the question obviously is: Isn't that happening in Alabama, also?
Mr. BURNEY. Yes, sir. I am in the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program, so I am in the stockpile program.
Mr. HANSEN. So what do you do? Is this stored next to a metropolitan area as the gentleman from Alabama talks about the plant going to be built?
Mr. BURNEY. Yes, sir. Some of our residents in therethey happen to be in Chairman Henderson's districtcan walk out their back yard, touch the fence that is less than a half a mile from where the igloos are stored.
Mr. HANSEN. It would appear to me your bigger problem is staring you right in the face right now. You get this thing up and going and get these things over with, you only got 7 percent of the whole shooting match, haven't you?
Mr. BURNEY. Yes, sir, but are we willing to roll the dice during that period of time while we destroyed the first part of the weapons? I don't think Anniston is willing to do that.
Mr. HANSEN. Oh, I just think the obvious this is you're rolling the dice to a certain extent, because when they are sitting there in that condition of a stockpile, you have got a potential lethal situation there.
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Mr. BURNEY. We agree with that 100 percent, sir. We are just asking for the congressionally mandated maximum protection that was promised by the Secretary of Defense.
Mr. HANSEN. I appreciate the gentleman yielding.
Mr. RILEY. Define for us maximum protection.
Mr. BURNEY. I am glad you asked that, Congressman. We have been asking that question for some 11 years now.
And by the way, I have been in the program since its inception, and there's just a handful of us that is still left in it, and that says one of two things: Either we're dedicated and want to see this program progress and be successful, or either we're just crazy. And someone told me we're probably a combination of both.
Mr. RILEY. When did the CSEPP money start to come into Calhoun County?
Mr. BURNEY. Started coming in in 1989.
Mr. RILEY. Was there anything that happened in 1989 that made that, kind of, a critical time that they started looking at CSEPP? We have been storing chemicals there since the 1940s, so what happened in 1989 that said, ''All of a sudden we're going to take this storage seriously''?
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Mr. BURNEY. Oh, I am glad you asked me that, sir. There was an editorial in the Anniston Star as of yesterday that talked about the non-stockpile material. And that editorial does state that we knew that these weapons were being stored for the last 40 years, and we accepted that risk. That is just not a true assessment.
The general public did not know about the storage of these weapons until the 1986 treaty. And in general, the general public did not know about it until the CSEPP program was born in 1989. So to assess the
Mr. RILEY. But you say that the CSEPP program came into existence at the time that we decided to incinerate?
Mr. BURNEY. Yes, sir. The mother of the CSEPP program was the incineration program.
Mr. RILEY. So everyone will tell you that the CSEPP program is part of the storage but the only time we took it seriously is when we decided to burn it.
Mr. BURNEY. Absolutely.
Mr. RILEY. Thank you.
Mr. HUNTER. Okay, and I would remind my colleagues we have got a third panel to handle before our 1 o'clock hearing.
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Mr. WALDEN. I will just be real brief, Mr. Chairman, because I think what is been raised in this discussion here is the issue I have raised in Umatilla when there have been problems with the emergency notification system in the CSEPP program. The point isn't the incinerator. The point is these people live in the shadow of this depot today, and if there is a problem with one of the igloos, this is the same notification system that is supposed to be in service working properly, flawlessly, and it hasn't been.
And that is the point that needs to be addressed. This is the same notification system that is supposed to protect them today. We only discovered it as a result of the incinerator and all the extra intensity of looking at the system to discover its flaws and its faults. We have got to fix it and fix it now.
Mr. HUNTER. Mr. Walden, thank you.
And thank you very much, members of the panel. This has been very instructive.
And once again, the Committee will, I think, facilitate answering the many questions that you have to the Army or to other agencies. And, one thing that you've got with the military is a lot of rotations. Folks come in, and they move off to another assignment. That is the nature of the military. And thank God we have got folks that are willing to serve in today's services and do all the things that they have to do. But it is tough sometimes to have a consistent direction of policy when we have new people coming in and out on a fairly regular basis.
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One thing that we can do here is to try to help make sure that the policies are consistent, that you folks know about them, that you are given plenty of notice and you have a chance to give your response. And so we want to be sensitive to the communities.
The nature of the beast is that it is sometimes tough to make sure we have got a floating consistent policy when you have got a lot of players who change on a fairly regular basis.
But thank you for being with us and appreciate all of your testimony and appreciate your great members of Congress who have invited you to be with us today, and we will work this problem.
And I would now ask the third panel to come up. We are pleased to have as our witnessesand incidentally, folks, we do have another hearing that kicks off in about 45 minutes.
I am pleased to have as our witnesses Dr. Anna Johnson-Winegar, Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Chemical and Biological Matters; Dr. Gloria Patton, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Chemical Demilitarization; Mr. Denzel Fisher, representing the Deputy Secretary of the Army for the Environment, Safety and Occupational Health; Mr. Jim Bacon, project manager for chemical demilitarization; Mr. Russ Salter, Federal Emergency Management Agency, that is FEMA; and from the Soldier and Biological Chemical Command, we welcome back Dr. John Ferriter.
Page 124 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We look forward to your testimony on what is being done by the Department of Defense, the Army and FEMA to address recommendations from the investigators and to prevent such an incident from occurring again either at Tooele or any other baseline incineration site. And we look forward to your response to the issues raised in testimony by the National Research Stockpile Committee and by representatives of the local communities.
Time permitting, I think we will also have a chance to discuss the status of the overall chemical agents and munitions destruction program and any issues you anticipate in execution of fiscal year 2001 program and anticipated issues that might be raised in the fiscal year 2002 budget request.
So thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for being with us. And let's go to Dr. Johnson-Winegar to lead off.
Ma'am, the floor is yours.
STATEMENT OF DR. ANNA JOHNSON-WINEGAR, DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR CHEMICAL AND BIOLOGICAL DEFENSE
Dr. JOHNSON-WINEGAR. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. As you indicated, I am Dr. Anna Johnson-Winegar, the Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Chemical and Biological Defense Programs. My office is the single point of contact within the Secretary of Defense organization that is responsible for the oversight, coordination and integration of all chemical and biological defense, counter-proliferation support, chemical demilitarization and assembled chemical weapons assessment programs.
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First of all, I would like to reaffirm that the Department of Defense has been and remains fully committed to ensuring that all chemical demilitarization operations provide the maximum protection for the public, for all personnel involved in the destruction process, and the environment. Disposal operations are designed to be carried out in the safest manner possible while complying with all applicable environmental laws and safety standards.
Acting for the Secretary of Defense, I will personally review and follow up with the Department of the Army on the implementation of all the recommended actions that have been discussed previously today.
The Department of Defense takes these reports very seriously, and we are committed to ensuring continued safety in the operations at existing and future chemical demilitarization facilities.
To that end, on August 29, 30 and 31, I personally met with the site managers in Pine Bluff, Anniston and Tooele to address engineering and safety issues. While in Tooele, I specifically met with the depot commander, the facility manager and the contracting operators.
I conveyed specific DOD concerns regarding the incident that occurred on May 8. I physically observed the changes that have been put in place by the contractor, including the isolation valve and other things that have been discussed by panel one. I have reviewed operational procedures for the alarms and verification of the data. And I have discussed training issues with both Army personnel and the contractor.
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I continue to emphasize that any chemical release to the atmosphere represents a significant concern which cannot be dismissed. We will continue to take appropriate action from the Office of the Secretary of Defense to ensure the Army's continued responsible actions in the completion of the Chemical Demilitarization Program. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Johnson-Winegar can be found in the Appendix.]
Mr. HUNTER. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF GLORIA S. PATTON, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE ARMY, CHEMICAL DEMILITARIZATION, DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
Dr. PATTON. Thank you. Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee, I am Dr. Gloria Patton. I am very pleased to have the opportunity today to address this Committee and to provide you the facts of the incident. I consider it an honor to serve as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Chemical Demilitarization and to lead the Army's Chemical Demilitarization Program into the 21st century.
I act as the primary policy advocate on chemical demilitarization issues for the Assistant Secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology and the Army Acquisition Executive, the Honorable Mr. Paul Hoeper. Mr. Hoeper, in his role as the Army Acquisition Executive, is responsible for the Chemical Demilitarization Program which is a major Defense acquisition program.
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The mission of the Chemical Demilitarization Program is to destroy all U.S. chemical warfare materiel while ensuring maximum protection to the public, the workers and the environment. Each day a chemical destruction facility operates, the threat posed to the public by continued storage is reduced. It is the reduction of this threat that drives the program forward.
Gentlemen, our paramount objective is to reduce the risk to the communities surrounding chemical storage sites as we safely destroy the United States stockpile of lethal chemical agents and munitions.
The Department of Defense is committed to meeting the United States' obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention by eliminating the chemical weapons stockpile by April 2007.
Mr. HUNTER. You realize, Dr. Patton, if we do that, we are going to be the only signatory to the agreement that actually pulled our gun out of the holster and emptied the bullets out. The former Soviet Union has spent almost nothing on keeping their commitments, so they are going to remain with almost a full stockpile while we disarmed. You understand that?
Dr. PATTON. Yes, sir, you are right. But hasn't this country been the leader for many, many years in many, areas? And I hope that we continue that.
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Mr. HUNTER. Well, usually, disarmament, you want to empty a gun at about the same time as the other guy. Being the leader may not be the right thing to do in that case. We don't do that with nuclear weapons.
Dr. PATTON. Well
Mr. HUNTER. Disarm all of our nuclear weapons and say, ''We're the leader and we're empty.'' So, we want to, in another forum perhaps, work with this administration on making sure that this thing is a bilateral thing where the other signatories, guys who signed their signatures to the contract and promised to disarm at the same time we did, actually start doing that, because the intelligence we have back is that there is been almost no move to disarm by the Russians.
So, we may face a nation which has promised to draw its stockpile down, but sits by and waits as we take our gun out of the holster and chop it into pieces and they keep theirs decidedly full of ammunition and ready to use. So this is becoming more and more of a concern to the Armed Services Committee as you may imagine. And we're going to be maybe doing a little more work with you on this in the near future.
Dr. PATTON. I would look forward to that.
Mr. HUNTER. And I didn't mean to interrupt.
Dr. PATTON. I am not sure if the Russians, the status of their munitions, but I can tell you, ours are aging very rapidly. And the leaks here that you have heard about are an example. But we are committed to doing that. That is the law, that is what we are committed to doing within the Department of Defense.
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But I would like to reiterate my earlier statement and those of the people I work with. The safety of the public, the safety of the workers and the protection of the environment are the Army's highest priorities and I believe they are a very high priority for the entire department.
I welcome this opportunity to address your concerns. I look forward to the opportunity to meet with you, sir. And I thank you very much.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Patton can be found in the Appendix.]
Mr. HUNTER. Thank you very much, Doctor. We appreciate it.
And Mr. Fisher, if you'd like to go ahead and we will take a statement from each person before we resume questions.
STATEMENT OF DENZEL L. FISHER, ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRAMS SPECIALIST, OFFICE OF THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE ARMY, INSTALLATIONS AND ENVIRONMENT
Mr. FISHER. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, I appreciate the opportunity to address the Committee on behalf of Mr. Raymond Fatz, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Environment, Safety and Occupational Health.
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My name is Denzel Fisher, and I am Mr. Fatz's assistant for environmental programs. My responsibilities include oversight of the environment, safety and occupational health aspects of chemical demilitarization and for emergency preparedness.
There Army's number one goal in chemical demilitarization as was heard before is the safety of its workers and the people in the surrounding communities. Even though the Tooele release was small, the Army considered it a significant event and a serious event.
Mr. Fatz's immediate response was to direct an independent investigation by the Director of Army Safety. He asked the Director to determine what caused the release and to recommend corrective actions to prevent similar occurrences.
As you heard earlier, Colonel Kevin Connors, a member of the first panel today, was the investigating officer. His report recommended a number of changes, and the Army is implementing the appropriate changes at Tooele and other disposal facilities with incineration as a destruction technology.
In response to a chemical event such as this, the Army is totally committed to providing early warning to the communities. Early warning is critical for state and local officials to implement protective actions. Our failure to provide immediate notification to Tooele County officials erodes the public's faith and confidence in the Army's ability to protect them. Such failures also reduce our credibility to those who rely on us to provide information necessary to ensure public health and safety.
Page 131 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Our office was particularly troubled by the fact that the cause of the delay was failure to follow standard operating procedures. Consequently, Mr. Fatz asked the commander of the Soldier and Biological Chemical Command to report on the steps he has taken to ensure that local officials are notified immediately of potential agent releases. The commander has assured us of the importance of timely notification, has emphasized this to all emergency operations personnel and office installations, and has instituted changes in procedures.
Further, Mr. Fatz has requested the Army Inspector General provide an independent assessment of alert and notification procedures at the eight chemical storage sites. This assessment will provide us with a better understanding of the root causes for the delay in notifying local officials. The Army is committed to implementing this policy of immediate notification. Anything less is not acceptable.
In closing, I want to assure you that the Army's number one priority in this program is the health and safety of our workers, and of the people in the surrounding communities. We have said that before and we will continue to say that. It is our number one priority.
We know that the continued success of the program is based upon community support and trust. We also know that the retention of community support depends on the credibility of the Army safety and notification procedures. Understandably, these communities demand safe practices all the time every time, and the Army must maintain that standard of performance.
Again, I thank you for this opportunity to address the Committee and look forward to your questions.
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[The prepared statement of Mr. Fisher can be found in the Appendix.]
Mr. HUNTER. Thank you, Mr. Fisher.
STATEMENT OF JAMES L. BACON, PROGRAM MANAGER FOR CHEMICAL DEMILITARIZATION, DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
Mr. BACON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee. My name is Jim Bacon. I am the Army's program manager for the Chemical Demilitarization Program. I thank you for this opportunity to represent this program and to provide some testimony on this important matter.
As program manager, I am directly responsible for the execution of the mission of disposing of the nation's chemical weapons, both our stockpile and what is referred to as non-stockpile chemical warfare materiel. I am charged with accomplishing this mission, while ensuring the safety of our workers, the public and the environment. And, sir, I take this charge very seriously.
While the program must adhere to performance standards, schedules, treaty deadlines, remain within budget, I want to emphasize up front and throughout my testimony that these factors do not compromise our highest primary consideration, and that being safety.
Page 133 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Chem Demil Program has been in place for about 20 years and has positioned the United States, as you said, as the world leader in chemical weapons destruction. We have accomplished numerous milestones, making significant progress in executing this mandate of destroying the chemical weapons safely.
As we move forward, we engage continuously in an assessment of our processes and our approaches, and we are continually seeking best practices for accomplishing this mission safely, as well as cost-effectively and within international treaty time frames.
Despite our best efforts to execute our mission with these goals in mind, a mishap did occur at our chemical weapons disposal facility in Tooele. We take the incident that occurred at that facility on 8 May very seriously as one that emerged from an unusual combination of challenges faced by the operations team at that facility on that evening.
At this point, I would like to emphasize, however, that as much as this was a mishap, the management of the Tooele Destruction Facility is a matter for which I, as the program manager, accept full responsibility.
In keeping with our history of continual program assessment, continuous process improvement, we are implementing the actions from the investigating teams and our other reviews to implement and incorporate enhancements and improvements there at the Tooele facility, and as well as at other facilities that are currently under construction; that is in Umatilla, Anniston, Pine Bluff, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, and Newport, Indiana. We continue to institute these measures to mitigate the possible recurrence of an event like this.
Page 134 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As unfortunate as this mishap was, the greater safety threat, however, is and has always been the continued storage of these chemical weapons. The corrective actions we take will ensure that the program can continue to dispose of the stockpile safely, as safe as possible and with the maximum oversight that is necessary to ensure the safety of everyone involved in this mission.
As we look down the road toward the time when we no longer have chemical weapons threatening our communities, we continue to make significant progress in the destruction of this materiel, having destroyed over 20 percent of the nation's stockpile to date, 1,960 tons of materiel chemical agents at Johnston Atoll and over 4,670 tons at Tooele.
At Tooele, that is 91 percent of the public risk per year has been eliminated, the progress made to date in the four years of operation. I might add, at the Anniston community after one year of operation, we will have eliminated approximately 95 percent of the risk of the weapons stored at Anniston Army Depot.
We will complete the remaining 70 tons of chemical agent at Johnston Island this year and begin closure of that facility this winter. As program manager, I feel confident in moving forward as we continue to build a program on a solid foundation that we stand on today and we continue to improve that.
I thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today. I want to emphasize my personal commitment to the continuous safe operations of our destruction facilities as we continue to eliminate chemical weapons and the risk that they present to the communities where they are stored.
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My staff and I stand ready to address your concerns as fully as possible and to assure you that our program is on the right track using the best proven technologies that we have, operating in a safe, environmentally conscious manner and eliminating that risk posed to our communities. And I thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Bacon can be found in the Appendix.]
Mr. HUNTER. Thank you, Mr. Bacon.
STATEMENT OF DR. JOHN M. FERRITER, DIRECTOR FOR OPERATIONS, REMEDIATION AND RESTORATION AND LEADER OF THE OPERATIONS ENTERPRISE
Dr. FERRITER. Mr. Chairman and Committee members, I am John Ferriter, the Director of Operations for Mediation and Restoration at the U.S. Army Soldier and Biological Chemical Command. The eight storage sites and the Project Manager for Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness report to me.
I appreciate the opportunity to come before you and address the CSEPP-related issues that occurred on the 8th of May. Army policy is to report immediately to local emergency management personnel and elected officials whenever there is a release or whenever there is an event that might give the impression to the public that there was a release. Unfortunately, as mentioned earlier, standard procedures were not followed, and we did not make the notification within the 10 minutes specified.
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The first notification should have been made by 11:36 p.m. on the 8th of May, indicating to the community there was an alarm in the stack. The confirmation notification should have been made by 11:27 a.m. on the 9th of May, indicating that there was a confirmed release at that point in time. That did not occur.
We take alert and notification very seriously in the command. We continually stress it. The commanders share information. I have asked each commander to go back to the local communities and sit down and discuss alert notification procedures and come back in writing agreedto notification procedure of what we will say, when we will say it and to whom.
As mentioned earlier, that has just been completed in Utah on the 12th of September. That document was signed by the commander of the depot, as well as the local Tooele officials. If these procedures are strictly adhered to, we are very confident that, in fact, we will be able to report to all communities in the time specified the alert notification for them to allow to take appropriate protective posture.
Our mission and our moral responsibility is to provide the maximum protection to the citizens, the workers and the environment on and around the depots in the event of an accident.
I appreciate the opportunity to be with you today and to answer your questions on CSEPP. Thank you.
Page 137 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [The prepared statement of Dr. Ferriter can be found in the Appendix.]
Mr. HUNTER. Thank you, Dr. Ferriter.
STATEMENT OF RUSSELL SALTER, DIRECTOR, CHEMICAL AND RADIOLOGICAL PREPAREDNESS DIVISION, FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY
Mr. SALTER. Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, I am Russell Salter, Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Chemical and Radiological Preparedness Division.
Since August 1997, I have served as the agency's national program manager for the Chemical Stockpile Program and I am pleased to be here today on behalf of Director James Lee Witt. And I do appreciate the opportunity to answer any questions that you may have concerning our national CSEPP program or those relating to the safety of the community in and around the Anniston Army Depot.
I have provided the Committee with a more detailed, written statement that discusses CSEPP from our national perspective. My intent in this very brief oral testimony is to provide some brief comments about the management at CSEPP and a statement concerning the readiness in Alabama.
Page 138 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC One preliminary comment I would like to make, and that is that CSEPP has been and remains a challenging program that involves all of the different levels of the government, at the federal, the state, the tribal and the local levels. It involves different organizations within each of these governmental units, all with different cultures, different ways of doing business, and in some cases, different ideas about how to best implement the program.
But there is one constant that I have found for all of us that are involved in CSEPP, and that is that we are all interested in protecting the public. So, therefore, despite the occasional differences of opinion that we may have regarding maximum public protection, how it should be provided, the collective commitment to that goal by everyone involved in CSEPP has made the community surrounding the stockpile sites much safer, I believe, than they were before.
Management at CSEPP is a unique partnership among each of the government entities involved. We value this partnership and believe that the program has benefited accordingly. Our role at the federal level is to provide policy and guidance, funding and assistance as needed to the states and the local jurisdictions in developing and maintaining their off-sight preparedness capability.
Risk is a major factor in determining our national policy and the community preparedness needs at each of their respective sites. Funding is provided through cooperative agreements that are based on negotiated work plans between the states and our FEMA regions.
When I became program manager for CSEPP, I instituted a program performance monitoring system. This system is based on previously established benchmark criteria for off-post preparedness and it provides a continuing picture of the capability development at each site. It also allows our CSEPP planning community to project and monitor both the completion and expenditure of funds for each of those benchmarks. And while we recognize that the risk of storage necessitates that we complete other preparedness measures as quickly as possible, the end point of our monitoring system projections is tied to the key dates in the Army's demilitarization program.
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The State of Alabama and the counties surrounding the Anniston Depot have worked very hard over the life of CSEPP to provide a realistic capability for the community. And at the federal level, we believe that we have provided the necessary funding and support to achieve the preparedness goals. And I might add that Anniston has come a long way compared to where they were in 1989. However, our program monitoring system shows, and the states and counties certainly agree, that there are several areas that require priority attention if we are to complete or enhance the capability at the Anniston community.
I am deeply concerned about each of these areas, and my staff is meeting regularly with the state and counties involved to assist in the completion of this work.
In closing, through our collaborative efforts at each level of the government, a capability exists to protect the citizens residing in the counties surrounding the Anniston Depot in the event of a chemical agent release. However, we will not relax the priority currently being applied to completion or enhancement of the remaining work. And we will continue until collectivelyand I mean collectivelywe are all satisfied that protection of the health and safety of the public is consistent with the risk of both storage and incineration.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify, and I will answer any questions you may have, sir.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Salter can be found in the Appendix.]
Mr. HUNTER. Mr. Salter, thank you.
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And Mr. Sisisky says he doesn't have any questions. Incidentally, all members will be allowed to ask questions for the record. We may have some questions that are somewhat more complex and need to be answered for the record.
Mr. HANSEN. Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman. I really have no questions for this group. I would like to submit some written questions, if I may, that may be answered.
Mr. HUNTER. Absolutely.
Mr. HANSEN. And I do appreciate the statement of all six of the panelists; very good testimony. And I think it is been a good hearing, and I appreciate you being here.
Mr. HUNTER. Thank you.
Mr. RILEY. I know you have got another hearing, and I will try to be brief, but it is going to be hard to do with this panel.
Mr. Salter, NRC says that in their testimony, the Committee is concerned that the current reorganization of the CSEPP program under which FEMA now has responsibility for off-site plans and activities may fragment authority and interfere with the well-coordinated emergency management program.
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In addition, I note that the emergency response in Tooele is splitting to at least two commands within the Army. Can you comment on whether or not we need to take this back to a single source or do we need to keep FEMA involved?
Mr. SALTER. Sir, I do not believeand the memorandum of understanding that you may be referring to is the 1997 most recent memorandum of understanding. And I believe that that MOU created a partnership between the Army and FEMA that has not provided any kind of barriers to our successful progression with the CSEPP program. We have clearly delineated in that MOU who is responsible for what.
Mr. RILEY. Did you have the opportunity to listen to our EMA director from Calhoun County a moment ago?
Mr. SALTER. Yes, sir, I did.
Mr. RILEY. Can you comment on his problems and when he says he cannot get any kind of definitive answer from you, from the Army, from anyone on what the program is going to be and that it has dramatically changed within the last 11 years or after 11 years?
Mr. SALTER. Sir, the comment to which you refer has to do with the perceived change in the evacuation procedures. I am assuming that is the nature of your question, whether it is evacuate or shelter in place and a clear direction from the Army or FEMA in terms of what that should be. Evacuation has always beenand the Army would back this up I am surehas always been the preferred method of responding in a CSEPP incident.
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But I must say that in the county surrounding the Anniston Depot, it is very complicated because of the large population there. When I came in as program manager, in 1997, when it was explained to me that we would evacuate 75,000 people within a one- to two-hour period, having been with FEMA for a long time and been through hurricanes and lots of other disasters, I said, ''That will not work.'' And that was the instigation of the study that said we go back and look at the logic associated with that.
And so from that, that was our way of presumably providing, again, direction from the Army and FEMA in terms of what needs to be done there. And that is where the combination of the sheltering in place and evacuation seem to be the best course of action.
Mr. RILEY. Mr. Salter, I tend to agree with you. I have never thought you could evacuate 75,000 people, especially with infrastructure that we have in Calhoun County. What bothers me is that it took 11 years to make that recommendation.
Mr. SALTER. And that bothers me, too, sir. As I said, whenever I was program manager and that logic was presented to me, I seriously questioned it, especially with 106 zones that had been established through the planning process and the ability to evacuate them in that time frame just would not work.
Mr. RILEY. Was your resulting opinion, was it influenced to any degree by lack of financial resources to do what the Calhoun County EMA has been requested to do over the last 10 years?
Page 143 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SALTER. Again, I can only speak for the last three years, sir. And one of the things that was presented to me was that funds did not exist to do all of the collective protection projects that had been identified.
Mr. RILEY. So are you telling me that this was an impossibility regardless of funds or was it an impossibility based on the funds available?
Mr. SALTER. I would say that it was an impossibility based on the funds that were available through the life cycle cost estimates.
Mr. RILEY. Thank you, Mr. Salter.
Mr. Bacon, if I can, let me ask you a question. According to an EGG report, somewhat troublingCongressman Sisisky said a moment ago, ''Who do we hold responsible when a problem arises at one of these installations?''
On a cost-plus-type arrangement, what incentive is there for the operator of that facility to be more conscious or less conscious? How will you change the policies? Will the policies change?
Based on one comment here, in EG&G's own report, it says, ''In addition, there is no documented evidence that lessons learned from either the chemical demilitarization operations or the program lessons learned have been implemented at Tooele. Both programs have issues, items that have a direct bearing on the incident.''
Page 144 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC A follow-up to that says, ''Further, a review of the lessons learned identified contained several that are directly applicable to the agent release event and would have mitigated or possibly even prevented the event. Accordingly, the conclusion is that the lessons learned and their inherent preventive measures have not been effectively implemented in the training program, in the formal classroom training or in shift training at Tooele.''
Everyone has told me here today that the lessons we have learned in Tooele are going to be implemented in Anniston, in Umatilla, but according to EG&G's own reports, they haven't even implemented them in Tooele. Now what do we do? You're the program manager. How do we ensure that they become more responsible to the operation of that plant?
Mr. BACON. Sir, and I do accept that responsibility as program manager, as the ultimate person responsible. We do hold the contractor responsible for implementing those procedures. We also hold the Armymy staff responsible to assure that we do that. And as I indicated in my statement, we will provide additional oversight if that is required to assure that we implement these lessons learned.
Mr. RILEY. Have you read EG&G's report?
Mr. BACON. I have briefly read EG&G's report, yes, sir. I have not spoken with the EG&G personnel on that report.
Mr. RILEY. Bothers me that the people who operate it say, ''We haven't implemented any of the lessons we have learned,'' and no one has even commented on that today.
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Mr. BACON. Sir, I believe there have been a number of lessons learned implemented at Tooele.
Mr. RILEY. Then how do you explain EG&G's own internal report?
Mr. BACON. Sir, I will need to review with EG&G those specific lessons they are referring to in that report. I will do that, get back to you on that.
[The information referred to can be found in the Appendix.]
Mr. RILEY. I would appreciate it.
And finally, Dr. Patton
Dr. PATTON. Yes, sir.
Mr. RILEY. There is not going to be a site built in the United States that is not going to request impact funds. The reason they are going to request impact funds is because they were promised impact funds.
The first year that I was in Congress, representatives from the Army came in and said, ''You will get impact funds. The only thing we need to do is determine how much.'' We went through a negotiation process for probably a year to determine what that number would be. Once the construction permit was issued in Alabama, there was a 180-degree change in philosophy with the Army. It went from the point of, ''We are going to help your community. We are going to say that impact funds are paid because we understand there is a negative impact.'' Once the construction permit was issued, their whole philosophy was, ''Well, I am sorry but we cannot pay any type of impact funds.''
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We talk about credibility again. Credibility, not only with the community, but credibility with me has been absolutely strained to the breaking point with your department and the people that work in your department based on promises that they made not only to me but also to the community that they totally disregard now. And I think every other community is going to be coming to you with essentially the same request because I think that request was made everywhere.
I would like to know what you plan to do about it. I have talked to every one of your predecessors for four years. Everyone is going to get back to me. And eventually, the last comment I had was, ''How are we going to pay you negative impact funds when we spent $800 million to improve your economy?'' If that is the philosophy of your department, we have a distinctly different philosophy on what impact funds should be.
Dr. PATTON. As you know, the conversations and the promises to which you refer, of course, are before my time so I can't speak to those, sir.
Mr. RILEY. No, ma'am, but I can.
Dr. PATTON. The position of the department, as you know, is that there is no legal basis from which we can base payment of impact funds.
I would like to be able to take any specific questions on this subject. For the record, I would like to give you my own opinion. I have often considered this issue during the nine months I have been in this job, and I expect the issue to continue into the future. I would be more than pleased to take any questions and to have any discussions that you would like.
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Mr. RILEY. Dr. Patton, with all due respect, that is exactly the same response I have been getting for four years: ''Submit your questions and I will get back to you.'' Eventually, someone has got to step up and tell me why promises made are not being kept.
Dr. PATTON. I wish I could just say yes or no to you, but sir, I will need to be able to discuss with you
Mr. RILEY. This is not an unfamiliar problem.
Dr. PATTON. I would like to be able to discuss this issue with you further.
Mr. RILEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HUNTER. I thank the gentleman.
Mr. WALDEN. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I was referring to a staff document here prepared for the Committee that details, the CSEPP's program approach and the benchmarks, and I don't know if you have seen this benchmark for each of the facilities. I will let whoever is most appropriate respond. They list Tooele, Umatilla, Anniston and Pine Bluff. I am particularly, obviously, interested in the Umatilla situation because 5 of the 13 benchmarks, it says, ''As of August 4 of 2000, FEMA cites specific CSEPP readiness data lists no data provided.'' Is that because the state of the construction?
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Mr. SALTER. Sir, I will try to answer that. I am not sure that I am familiar with the specific document that you are looking at, but I can speak clearly about our benchmarks that we have at your location in Umatilla. And we do have answers on each of the benchmarks there in our program performance monitoring system in terms of the status of each and where they are. And I would be happy to provide that page to you.
[The information referred to can be found in the Appendix.]
Mr. WALDEN. Okay, because 5 of the 13 on this sheet, which is a spreadsheet showing everything from alert notification system to training re-entry, community involvement communications, I sayjust says, ''No data provided.'' Four of the 13 are complete. Three of the 13 show minor problems, and 1 has a major problem which just happens to be the communication systems. And that is as of August 4. So I would like to follow up with you on that.
I have a couple of other questions, and this gets back to what my colleague from Alabama was asking Dr. Patton about. Does the Army dispute the counties' contention that they have incurred and will continue to incur infrastructure, government services, social, economic and other impacts arising from the storage and Chemical Demilitarization Program at the Umatilla Chemical Depot? Do you dispute the county's contention that there are impacts involved as a result of the Army being there?
Dr. PATTON. Sir, is that a question or is that a statement? I didn't hear a question.
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Mr. WALDEN. It began with a question. Does the Army dispute the counties' contention that the counties have incurred and will continue to incur infrastructure, government services, social, economic and other impacts arising from the storage and Chemical Demilitarization Program at the Umatilla Chemical Depot? Counties assert that they are impacted by the Army and the program there, the depot, and the demilitarization.
Dr. PATTON. I recently made a trip with some colleagues to the Umatilla Depot area in which this was discussed at some length with the citizens. The fact that there is impacts, we are more than willing to discuss with you all, with the counties, with the citizens. I believe that that is one of the approaches that we should take. But at the present time, there is no legal basis upon which the Army can pay impact fees.
Mr. WALDEN. Okay. Then let me ask you the next question: Does the Army, do you or your superiors, support the counties' request for congressional authorization, appropriation to pay them and other counties that are hosting chemical stockpile storage and disposal operations? Will you support that authorization and appropriation? I mean, isn't that the crux of the issue here?
Dr. PATTON. No, sir. We believe that if the Congress, in its wisdom, comes to us and does speak to such language and desire on the part of the Congress, certainly, we will be supportive.
Mr. WALDEN. That is a different question. My question is: Will the administration support impact payments?
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Dr. PATTON. Sir, I am a civil servant. I don't
Mr. WALDEN. I am having trouble hearing you, too. Can you get a little closer to that microphone? I want to make sure that we all hear your answer.
Dr. PATTON. That everybody hears me?
Mr. WALDEN. Seriously, the doors open and close. It's hard.
Dr. PATTON. Yes, sir.
Mr. WALDEN. Thank you.
Dr. PATTON. I would have to take that question for the record, sir. I can't speak for the administration at this point, if I may.
[The information referred to can be found in the Appendix.]
Mr. WALDEN. Certainly. All right, let me move on to the next one. Is the Army's life cycle cost estimate still $1.2 billion to dispose of the nerve agents at Umatilla Chemical Depot by incineration?
Mr. BACON. Yes, sir. That is the estimate for the destruction of the stockpile at Umatilla.
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Mr. WALDEN. $1.2 billion?
Mr. BACON. We continue to evaluate that. In fact, we will be doing a total review as we do periodically of our costs to assure that we are maintaining life cycle.
Mr. WALDEN. Okay. Does the Army or its contractor pay any property tax or in lieu of payments to any entity, for example, any other county anywhere in the country, Dr. Patton?
Dr. PATTON. I am sorry, I did not hear that question.
Mr. WALDEN. It's tough in here. Does the Army or its contractor pay any property tax or lieu of payments to any entity in either county?
Dr. PATTON. Not to my knowledge, sir.
Mr. BACON. Let's take that for the record, sir. I will get you an answer on that.
[The information referred to can be found in the Appendix.]
Mr. WALDEN. Okay. I have a number of others that, Mr. Chairman, in lieu of the situation we face. Can I close with just one other because
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Mr. HUNTER. Certainly. All the members have a right to submit written questions for the record.
Mr. WALDEN. Even nonmembers of the
Mr. HUNTER. Absolutely.
Mr. WALDEN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have appreciated your indulgence and courtesy today as always.
The question I have, and I think my colleague from Alabama had the similar frustration. We go through different people, and about the time we think we are going to reach communication, somebody new is on the scene. And I realize that it is the Army's policy to rotate people through.
A specific example in Umatilla, a lot of people in the community are very fond of the current depot manager, who's about to be rotated out or will be. And there is a sense that just about the time you get somebody on board, they understand the community, and they build a working relationship, they are moved off because their two-year rotation is up. So is there any interest on the Army's part to try and have somebody there to see one of these through a process or is that rare?
Dr. PATTON. If you are speaking to the military
Page 153 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. WALDEN. Yes.
Dr. PATTON.person, that is certainly outside of my role. That is an Army decision.
Mr. WALDEN. Whoever wants to take it.
Dr. FERRITER. Congressman Walden, I have discussed this with General Dohsberg who really looks at the assignment of the chemical officers in conjunction with the chemical branch. And I have brought that up, issue to him that it is been requested not only by the mayor but others that we might want to consider to continue a extended assignment for Colonel Woolison because of the state of the plan. We have also talked with others. We wanteddon't do anything that might impact his potential progress in the military as well.
Mr. WALDEN. Absolutely.
Dr. FERRITER. So there is a balance in that. So we are discussing that right now with General Dohsberg. We don't have an answer on that, but I will get back to you for the record for official answers.
[The information referred to can be found in the Appendix.]
Mr. WALDEN. Yes, and I would not want to do anything to harm his potential to advance in the service. But, gee, whiz, when communication is probably the biggest, fight out there, it'd be nice to have some continuity sometime or bring somebody back who's been there before.
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Mr. HUNTER. The gentleman makes a great point. And sometimes we let the institutional mechanisms get in our way. And when you have a great guy on site who's established that rapport and communication and trust between the service and the community, which are all the things we want to have, we leave him out because, like term limits, his time card expired and he has to move on to something else. Sometimes that doesn't make a lot of sense. Maybe you could work with the Army and try to do something there.
We really appreciate the gentleman. I appreciate his concern for his community and his very excellent questions and statements in this hearing. We sure appreciate you coming, Greg. Thank you.
And Mr. Riley, you had a follow-up here you wanted to come up with here.
Mr. RILEY. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate your indulgence today. You've been more than gracious with the time. But I just have to ask somebody on this panel, how do you take a $1.5 billion program and turn it into a $13 billion program and climbing?
Mr. BACON. Sir, you are referring to the estimate of 1985, 1986 time frame of $1.2 billion, I believe, where now the stockpile destruction portion is approximately $12 billion to $13 billion of that, overall $15 billion. I would say a lot of that is before my time, but there have been a number of changes and procedures in the environmental requirements in addition of CSEPP as we talked about, a number of factors that have contributed to the increase in the program. The increase in the scope of the program is a large portion of that, as well as providing the maximum protection, the redundancies that we have that are significantly more than you would find in a normal industrial plant processing hazardous chemicals.
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Mr. RILEY. Well, I think that is one of the problems that we have in government as a whole. We get a less than $2 billion estimate to do this, now it is up to $13 billion. Do you have any idea, by the time we are through with this program, how much we will have spent?
Mr. BACON. Sir, my goal is to stabilize that. We have been stable since our last cycle cost estimate in program baseline. It was prepared in 1997, which gives that current number you just quoted. And our goal is to live with that. There are potential increases in closure requirements, for example, that we are examining very closely as the legislation and the 2000 and 2001 budget ask us to look towards cost reduction initiatives. That is our goal and that is the goal that my leadership and the Army is holding me to is cost containment. So, sir, we are making the effort.
Mr. RILEY. Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HUNTER. Mr. Riley, thank you and thanks for your enthusiasm and drive in getting this hearing going and your concern for your constituents. And I will see you on the floor voting.
And to all of our panelists and all those who have been panelists, thank you for your contribution to a very complex challenge that is going to require some endurance and some creativity and stick-to-itiveness and good cooperation between our military agencies and domestic agencies and this House of Representatives.
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Just want to let you know we do appreciate you. This country has folks who know how to make the railroads run on time and sometimes railroads get stretched out a little bit. But often, that is a result of actions that are taken here in this body. And to some degree, I think we all have to take some blame in stretching out the Chem Demil Program. It's a complex thing and, of course, we can understand the communities that are involved have enormous sensitivity. They have to have enormous sensitivity.
But I think the last question I would want to ask the panel, and just respond if you take exception to this, my understanding is that the problem that led to the escape of the agent wasand we walked through this in some detailwas something that was fairly easily remedied by actions that were taken. There is a good deal of confidence that those actions will prevent a recurrence, and that the fixes that were made will be incorporated into the plants that are to be built or to be completed.
And so is it the consensus on the panel that there is confidence in the technology and the facilities that we are operating and that we will be operating with designs as altered by the fixes that are made following the incident? Is that your consensus?
Dr. PATTON. Absolutely, sir.
Mr. HUNTER. Okay.
Dr. PATTON. When we say that safety is our highest priority, we really seriously believe that and mean it and do everything in our power to do that.
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Mr. HUNTER. Okay, thank you very much and thank you all.
Dr. PATTON. Thank you very much.
Mr. HUNTER. And Dr. Patton, thank you for your long and distinguished career, too. I was looking at your resume and comparing it to mine and mine was much shorter.
Dr. PATTON. I think we are from the same area. My father also is a marine.
Mr. HUNTER. Is that right?
Dr. PATTON. Yes. Are you from North County?
Mr. HUNTER. No, no, I am from California.
Dr. PATTON. No, no, North Countyit is San Diego.
Mr. HUNTER. Oh, no, no, North County. Oh, I am from Riverside, which is not far from North County. I think our careers diverged with my 1.7 grade average. [Laughter.] Yours looks slightly higher.
But ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much. And all of our folks who have sat with us for this fairly lengthy hearing, we appreciate you being with us. Thank you.
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[Whereupon, at 1:05 p.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
September 21, 2000
[The Appendix is pending.]