Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.
Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.
OCR for page 1
Disposal of Chemical Agent Identification Sets: Review of the Army Non-Stockpile Chemical Material Disposal Program Executive Summary This study is a review and evaluation of the U.S. Army's Report to Congress on Alternative Approaches for the Treatment and Disposal of Chemical Agent Identification Sets (CAIS). CAIS are test kits that were used to train soldiers from 1928 to 1969 in defensive responses to a chemical attack. They contain samples of chemicals that had been or might have been used by opponents as chemical warfare agents. The Army's baseline approach for treating and disposing of CAIS has been to develop a mobile treatment system, called the Rapid Response System (RRS), which can be carried by several large over-the-road trailers. In 1997, Congress directed the U.S. Department of Defense to assess the existing policy and plans for disposing of CAIS and report on disposal alternatives and policy changes that ''could result in significant reductions in the cost...with no reduction in overall program safety." The Army's report, which responds to this congressional mandate, focuses on the alternative of shipping CAIS to existing commercial facilities for treating and disposing of hazardous wastes. This "commercial disposal option" has the potential to cost much less than deploying an RRS to each site where CAIS are stored or where they are recovered during environmental restoration of military installations. In addition to evaluating commercial disposal as reported by the Army to Congress, this study reviews and evaluates the use of the RRS in two modes of deployment: the baseline mode, in which an P-RS is transported to a site where CAIS are found or stored, and a "fixed RRS" mode, in which RRSs would be located at one or more fixed sites and CAIS from other sites would be shipped to one of these RRS sites for treatment. When the study committee learned that commercial facilities would probably dispose of CAIS by incineration, it decided to evaluate nonincineration alternatives to incineration that would be consistent with the congressional mandate for reducing program costs, as well as evaluating incineration at commercial facilities. Nonincineration methods would address the concerns of some public groups, including some stakeholders from communities near CAIS sites, that oppose the use of incineration for destruction of any chemical warfare materiel, including CAIS. Because CAIS contain samples of chemicals considered to be chemical warfare agents, they are classified as chemical warfare materiel. For historical and legal reasons, the programs for destroying U.S. chemical warfare materiel are divided into two categories: programs for destroying eight specific stockpiles of materiel at sites in the continental United States and one site in the Pacific Ocean, and programs for destroying all other chemical warfare materiel either stored at military installations or recovered during environmental restoration. Federal law prohibits the facilities built to destroy the chemical stockpile materiel from being used to dispose of any other hazardous materials, including materiel in the non-stockpile category, such as CAIS. Other than the two modes of RRS operation, the study committee did not evaluate the alternative of disposing of CAIS at a facility built specifically for non-stockpile materiel because it does not address
OCR for page 2
Disposal of Chemical Agent Identification Sets: Review of the Army Non-Stockpile Chemical Material Disposal Program the congressional request. That option, which could provide another route for CAIS disposal, may be assessed as part of the committee's continuing review and evaluation of the Non-Stockpile Chemical Materiel Disposal Program. The study committee evaluated the selected CAIS disposal options with respect to technology, laws and regulations, costs, environmental impacts, safety and health risks to workers and the public, involvement of a range of public and stakeholder groups, and programmatic considerations. The evaluations resulted in the conclusions and recommendations presented below. CLASSIFICATION AND REGULATION OF CAIS FOR TRANSPORT AND DISPOSAL The conclusions and recommendations on classification and regulation of CAIS apply to all of the disposal alternatives. Conclusion 1. If existing Army policies and regulations, as well as U.S. laws and their interpretations, were clarified and made more internally consistent, CAIS disposal would be simplified and the number of disposal alternatives would be increased without compromising public safety. A consistent approach to regulating CAIS would be to classify the CAIS set or individual items from a set as a characteristic hazardous waste rather than as chemical warfare materiel or chemical agent. This approach is consistent with historical practice in environmental regulation, in which a waste is classified on the basis of the amount of chemical constituents it contains and the potential risks it poses. If CAIS sets and items were classified as a characteristic hazardous waste, this would not (and should not) set a precedent for reclassifying any of their chemical constituents, such as sulfur mustard, that are classified as chemical warfare agents or chemical warfare materiel when in other configurations. Conclusion la. CAIS can be safely transported and handled if the best industrial practices for highly hazardous materials are used for packaging, handling, worker safety, monitoring, plant inspections, and audits, particularly if these practices are used in conjunction with the Army's experience in handling CAIS materials. Because either specialized commercial or Army-specific facilities and equipment could be used for transport and disposal, much of the present regulatory burden and Army bureaucracy surrounding the handling, transport, and disposal of CAIS items seems to be unnecessary. Conclusion 1b. For the purposes of transportation and disposal, CAIS containing mustard and lewisite could safely be classified as hazardous waste and not as chemical warfare materiel. The reclassification would greatly reduce the costs of transportation and disposal and would substantially increase the feasibility of CAIS disposal. This change should have no impact on the safety of CAIS recovery, transportation, or disposal operations for the following reasons: CAIS contain no explosives. The chemicals in recovered or stored CAIS that are currently-interpreted in Defense Department guidance as chemical warfare agents are sulfur mustard and lewisite. These chemicals are considered to have relatively high inherent hazard (at the high end of the range of hazards presented by hazardous industrial chemicals). Nevertheless, the risk posed by proper treatment of small quantifies of these is less than the risk posed by the larger quantifies of highly hazardous
OCR for page 3
Disposal of Chemical Agent Identification Sets: Review of the Army Non-Stockpile Chemical Material Disposal Program industrial chemicals that are already handled by the chemical industry and commercial hazardous waste treatment facilities. Although some CAIS configurations contain potentially lethal quantities of chemicals, the risks to the public and workers in handling CAIS can be controlled to protect human health. Most CAIS (except for two types that contain several liters of agent per set) contain relatively small quantities of chemical ingredients, often in dilute forms. Recommendation 1. The Army should present a plan to Congress describing how it will work with regulators, other appropriate decision makers, and stakeholders to clarify the regulatory status of Chemical Agent Identification Sets (CAIS), either through separate legislation (as part of 50 U.S.C. section 1512) or by other appropriate means. A range of stakeholders and public groups should be included in this process to ensure that this proposal to clarify regulations is presented in a forthright manner. In particular, the Army should inform the public that CAIS items contain chemical warfare agents and should be explicit about the technologies that would be used for commercial disposal. This plan should be part of the Army's overall program for CAIS disposal and should address ancillary issues, such as the implications of the Chemical Weapons Convention. One alternative that should be explored through this process is the feasibility of classifying complete CAIS sets or items from sets as a characteristic hazardous waste. COMMERCIAL INCINERATION Conclusion 2. Even though commercial incineration seems technically feasible and may offer cost and time savings compared to the RRS, many hurdles would have to be overcome. Not the least is ensuring that commercial incineration of CAIS is acceptable to the public. Recommendation 2. If the Army and its stakeholders cannot agree that the commercial incineration of CAIS is practical, the Army should expand its inquiry to include other disposal alternatives, such as nonincineration disposal methods, in either Army or commercial facilities, using technologies that have already been used in operational, permitted facilities or are scheduled to be demonstrated. Conclusion 3. It is technically feasible to dispose of all known CAIS items in commercial hazardous waste incineration facilities that have a permit specifically addressing wastes containing arsenic and that operate at the highest level of destruction and removal efficiencies for organic compounds. An example would be a permit specifying destruction and removal efficiencies similar to those required for commercial incineration facilities permitted to treat nitrogen mustard, polychlorinated biphenyls, or dioxins. Disposal in these commercial incineration facilities can be safe, reliable, and effective. The committee anticipates that a thorough and well-documented comparison of risk components will show that the risk to the public from the incineration of smaller quantities of CAIS items is lower than the risk from the routine incineration of larger quantities of highly toxic industrial chemicals. With appropriate process controls and monitoring, as discussed in this report, the committee also anticipates that risks to workers from incineration of CAIS items will be no greater than the risks from other commercially incinerated materials that are routinely handled in these facilities.
OCR for page 4
Disposal of Chemical Agent Identification Sets: Review of the Army Non-Stockpile Chemical Material Disposal Program Recommendation 3. To provide a documented evaluation of the environmental and worker/public safety issues involved in the commercial incineration of CAIS, the Army should prepare a report that compares the relative risks to workers and the public of incinerating CAIS items with the risks to workers and the public of incinerating highly hazardous industrial chemicals at any facility proposed for CAIS disposal. Among the components of risk that should be documented are (1) the toxicity of chemical agents in CAIS (mustard and lewisite) relative to highly hazardous industrial chemicals (e.g., agent-contaminated materials, highly toxic industrial chemicals, polychlorinated biphenyls, medical wastes, and other hazardous military wastes) that are routinely destroyed in commercial incineration facilities; (2) the anticipated annual volumes of agents in CAIS to be disposed of, compared with the annual volumes of highly hazardous industrial chemicals that are currently being commercially incinerated; and (3) the Environmental Protection Agency's "incinerability" classifications of chemicals in CAIS and highly hazardous industrial chemicals. Conclusion 4. By law, chemical warfare agent disposal facilities are required to provide maximum protection of the public, workers, and the environment. However, the term "maximally safe" is not clearly defined in the statute or in Army regulations and guidance documents. Recommendation 4. Either the Army, the U.S. Department of Defense, or Congress should clarify the interpretation of "maximally safe" to ensure that it can be applied consistently in different situations. For the transportation and handling risks, the role of feasibility in determining what is maximally safe should be incorporated through the use of regulatory concepts such as ALARA (as low as reasonably achievable) or ALARP (as low as reasonably practicable). For the risks from emissions and discharges, the well-established regulatory policy for managing waste disposal risks should be applied. For all risks, a risk management approach should be used to ensure that appropriate controls are identified and evaluated. Conclusion 5. The Army and its contractor conducted a preliminary analysis of the technical feasibility of commercial disposal of CAIS items at selected sites by incineration. The analysis was based on destruction of similar materials, and no trial bums were conducted. Sulfur mustard, the major chemical of concern in CAIS items, has been successfully destroyed via incineration and chemical neutralization. Lewisite, an arsenic-based material, has also been destroyed successfully, but, if it is incinerated, special scrubbing equipment may be required to meet regulatory limits on arsenic emissions. Although the committee does not know whether the facilities surveyed by the Army could handle arsenic-based materials, there are commercial incinerators that have permits allowing them to treat wastes containing arsenic. Characterization of incoming wastes (for compliance with a facility permit), monitoring of destruction removal efficiencies and emissions (particularly arsenic), and special handling (unless CAIS overpacks containing mustard or lewisite could be fed directly into the disposal equipment) may be required at commercial facilities. These requirements, combined with possible process and permit modifications, could be major economic and technical hurdles for commercial facilities. Recommendation 5. The Army should develop a stronger technical basis for its conclusion that commercial incineration of items from Chemical Agent Identification
OCR for page 5
Disposal of Chemical Agent Identification Sets: Review of the Army Non-Stockpile Chemical Material Disposal Program Sets (CAIS) is technically feasible (e.g., by determining if anything unique about CAIS disposal would preclude commercial incineration). The Army should also provide side-by-side data showing the destruction kinetics of CAIS and highly hazardous chemicals already being destroyed in commercial facilities. The data should be consistent with the conditions at state-of-the-art commercial facilities (i.e., facilities permitted to handle hazardous chemicals, such as polychlorinated biphenyls, dioxins, or nitrogen mustard). Conclusion 6. A preliminary cost estimate developed by the Army and its contractor showed that commercial incineration of CAIS items could yield substantial cost savings compared with the RRS option. However, a number of items either were not included or were not adequately discussed in this preliminary cost estimate (e.g., permit modifications, transportation of CAIS items, packaging, agent monitoring and other facility modifications, and staff training). In contrast to this optimistic estimate, the projected costs of the Army's baseline approach (i.e., the mobile RRS) seem overly conservative. Furthermore, the preliminary estimate did not include programmatic issues for the commercial incineration option. If the commercial option is pursued, issues of corporate commitment, legal liability, public notification requirements, and contractual matters could arise. The Army's cost estimate for commercial incineration was two orders of magnitude lower than the estimate for the RRS, which implies a potential for significant savings even after accounting for the costs not included in the estimate. However, given the potential regulatory problems, public concerns, and liability barriers, the Army may have to remove barriers before commercial firms will undertake CAIS disposal. Recommendation 6. The committee concurs with the Army's finding that a comparative cost analysis of commercial facilities with the options for the Rapid Response System should be conducted. The existing analysis provided by the Army is inadequate for this purpose. The cost analysis should be more detailed and, to the extent possible, should include all relevant costs so that accurate comparisons can be made. Conclusion 7. The Army's report to Congress did not include a risk assessment for the commercial (incineration)'disposal option; in fact, it did not discuss the risks at all. However, because phosgene and other CAIS ingredients are routinely used and disposed of in the chemical industry in much larger quantities than occur in CAIS, it seems reasonable to assume that the risks during CAIS disposal could be controlled. The Army's risk evaluation framework for the Chemical Stockpile Disposal Program could be adapted for application to CAIS disposal options. Recommendation 7. To characterize the risks of the commercial incineration option, the Army should conduct a risk evaluation using various hazard identification and evaluation methodologies, as appropriate. The evaluation of risks should include risks from delays, from transporting CAIS to a commercial facility, from handling CAIS in a commercial facility, and from treating CAIS disposal effluents. Worker safety during CAIS disposal should be evaluated using objective safety criteria to determine the .degree of specialized personal protective gear, workplace monitoring equipment, and/or specialized training that may be necessary. If the evaluation indicates risks to workers or the public that appear to warrant further risk control measures, then more detailed risk assessments may be helpful. Commercial operations for CAIS disposal should use procedures and provide
OCR for page 6
Disposal of Chemical Agent Identification Sets: Review of the Army Non-Stockpile Chemical Material Disposal Program protection equivalent to the safety practices that have been determined to be necessary in military installations that handle CAIS. Conclusion 8. The commercial incineration option may encounter public opposition by various groups, which could lead to schedule delays and added costs similar to those experienced by the Chemical Stockpile Disposal Program. Unfortunately, the Army's report to Congress did not include a detailed analysis of public acceptability issues—including how CAIS disposal would be related to the overall strategy for the disposal of non-stockpile materiel from the public's perspective. Instead, the report focused on cost, technical efficiency, and legal issues. Past experience has shown that focusing on these issues alone does not ensure public acceptability. Whichever option the Army favors, considerable staffing and funding for public involvement activities will be required to facilitate selection of an option that is both technically sound and acceptable to the public. Recommendation 8. If the commercial disposal option is pursued, the Army should carefully assess the public acceptability challenges of commercial incineration and ensure that the necessary resources and staff (skills, experience, and number) are available to develop and implement an effective public involvement program. This program should be coordinated with similar activities Army-wide, particularly activities of the Chemical Stockpile Disposal Program, to ensure that the approaches to public involvement are consistent. RAPID RESPONSE SYSTEM The Army's current plans for CAIS disposal are based on the use of a transportable RRS, which is currently being tested. The committee found that the RRS, in both the baseline, mobile configuration and the fixed mode, offers advantages in mobility and simplicity of operation (important attributes from the public's perspective), as well as the capability to characterize, separate, and repackage individual CAIS items. However, the committee also found that operational costs, permitting requirements, and follow-on treatment of RRS wastes are issues that must be addressed prior to using either RRS configuration. Mobile Rapid Response System Conclusion 9. Although some national and regional stakeholder groups have endorsed the concept of a mobile facility, a number of unresolved issues will make the disposal of CAIS via the mobile RRS difficult. Preliminary cost estimates indicate that RRS deployments will be expensive and more time consuming than the Army originally envisioned. For example, state-by-state permit requirements will hinder the rapid use of the RRS, and processing and transport costs in the Army's estimate seem unusually high. The RRS neutralization scheme seems viable as a preliminary processing step, although the entire RRS has not yet been fully tested as a system, and issues surrounding the monitoring and subsequent disposal of process effluents, in particular the use of incineration for treating RRS wastes, have not been completely resolved.
OCR for page 7
Disposal of Chemical Agent Identification Sets: Review of the Army Non-Stockpile Chemical Material Disposal Program Recommendation 9. As the Army begins initial testing o£ the Rapid Response System (RRS), it should critically examine a number of unresolved issues, including site-specific permitting requirements, monitoring, public involvement, and the disposal of process effluents. These issues should be resolved prior to the operational deployment of the RRS. Conclusion 10. Only two sites have permits that would allow long-term storage of CAIS prior to the arrival of an RRS: Deseret Chemical Depot (Utah) and Pine Bluff Arsenal (Arkansas). Both sites have occasionally placed restrictions on the receipt of CAIS items. Regulatory approval for transporting CAIS items across state lines to these sites will also affect disposal costs and schedules. The procedural and regulatory requisites for transportation o£ CAIS could be simplified by preparing a generic plan or template with wording appropriate for all situations, such as descriptions of relevant regulations, the mode of transport to be used, handling procedures, and so on. This template could include blanks for situation-specific details, such as the locations from and to which CAIS are transported, the specific CAIS materials to be moved, and situation-specific risks to be addressed. Recommendation 10. The Project Manager for Non-Stockpile Chemical Materiel should work with the Deseret Chemical Depot (Utah) and Pine Bluff Arsenal (Arkansas) storage facilities to clarify their acceptance criteria for Chemical Agent Identification Sets or items from them. The project manager should also consider developing alternative storage facilities in case these facilities become temporarily unavailable. The Army should work with regulators to reduce the time and administrative costs of developing transportation plans, recognizing that portions of these plans will necessarily be site-specific. Fixed Rapid Response System Conclusion 11. Disposal of CAIS by means of the fixed R-RS approach seems to offer potential cost savings by reducing the requirements for site-specific disposal permits and facility transportation. However, transporting CAIS to a fixed RRS will require regulatory approval and may be less attractive to some members of the public than a mobile facility. Regulatory costs could be significant unless the Army can obtain generic transportation permits or other forms of administrative relief. Recommendation 11. If the fixed (regional) option for the Rapid Response System is pursued, the Army must move quickly to engage base commanders, regulators, and public and stakeholder groups in exploring the details of this approach, including the disposal of process effluents and the locations of the fixed facilities. NONINCINERATION-BASED OPTIONS Conclusion 12. The Army's Alternative Technologies and Approaches Program and Assembled Chemical Weapons Assessment Program have identified several nonincineration technologies for the disposal of chemical warfare agents, including sulfur mustard and possibly lewisite. These processes may be more acceptable to the public than either commercial incineration or neutralization of CAIS materiel in the RRS followed by incineration. Nonincineration processes might be implemented in either commercial or
OCR for page 8
Disposal of Chemical Agent Identification Sets: Review of the Army Non-Stockpile Chemical Material Disposal Program Army-owned facilities. However, the absence of economic incentives for commercial firms to make process and regulatory modifications may preclude the use of commercial facilities. Recommendation 12. The Army should evaluate the technical feasibility of using nonincineration processes for destroying Chemical Agent Identification Sets and process effluents. The Army should also consider methods of identifying and overcoming institutional, regulatory, and economic barriers to the development of commercial nonincineration facilities. Conclusion 13. The disposal of CAIS in Army facilities that use nonincineration methods of destruction could offer a low-cost, maximally safe option, if CAIS disposal can be conducted as part of the normal, planned operations of these facilities. The technology being used by the Chemical Agent Munitions Disposal System may be appropriate for the disposal of CAIS items containing lewisite. The neutralization-based technology planned for the facility at Aberdeen Proving Ground may be appropriate for the disposal of CAIS items containing mustard. The Army has explicitly promised concerned stakeholders not to seek to alter the federal law prohibiting the use of chemical stockpile disposal facilities for the disposal of other wastes, including CAIS. Therefore, public resistance and current legal restrictions on additional uses of the stockpile facilities may make their use for CAIS disposal impossible. Nevertheless, the use of nonincineration-based disposal technologies like those at existing or planned Army facilities appears to be a technically and economically attractive option for the disposal of CAIS containing mustard or lewisite, provided affected communities agree and are involved in establishing the conditions for use of the facilities. Recommendation 13. Congress should consider revising the legal restrictions on the use of stockpile disposal facilities to allow the disposal of Chemical Agent Identification Sets (CAIS) at appropriate nonincineration-based facilities, at least where the local community agrees to short-term use of a facility to dispose of limited amounts of recovered and stored CAIS materials. At the same time, the Army should explore the use of nonincineration-based technologies for CAIS disposal and should engage the affected public and stakeholders at sites that will use these technologies in exploring the acceptability of this alternative. A PATH FORWARD The committee found that, if legal and regulatory burdens can be reduced, the CAIS disposal program could be accelerated safely, reliably, and effectively. However, implementation would require changes in current law and policy, with the advice and consent of the public. Although the committee believes that incineration of CAIS under controlled conditions is technically acceptable, some members of the public have expressed strong opposition to incineration. Based on experience with other disposal programs and the committee's interactions with concerned public groups, the committee expects that the public may be more accepting of disposal technologies that are not based on incineration. Summary Conclusion. All of the alternatives for disposing of CAIS evaluated by the committee have advantages and disadvantages. Although the approach, or approaches, will ultimately be selected by the Army, the committee believes the Army can take
OCR for page 9
Disposal of Chemical Agent Identification Sets: Review of the Army Non-Stockpile Chemical Material Disposal Program several steps to expand its options. As the Army moves forward, it will be vital that a range of public and other stakeholder groups be actively involved in decision making. The committee believes that consideration of the perspectives of these groups on risk, economic implications, and other aspects of CAIS disposal options will contribute significantly to better decisions. Summary Recommendation. The Army should take the following actions to expand its options for cost-effective disposal of Chemical Agent Identification Sets (CAIS) without decreasing safety or increasing the risks to workers, the public, or the environment: The Army should reconsider its interpretation of CAIS as chemical warfare materiel under U.S.C. section 1512. If the Army decides it cannot change its interpretation, then Congress should consider amending the legislation so that CAIS sets or items from CAIS can be regulated as hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The Army should promote the development of nonincineration technologies for CAIS disposal. The Army should develop, review with stakeholders, and then implement a written plan for public involvement designed to reach a range of stakeholders and concerned groups, including affected communities and tribal nations, state and federal regulators, concerned national and regional groups, and representatives of the waste disposal industry. In states with a chemical stockpile disposal facility, the Army should engage the affected communities in a discussion of alternatives, including the potential use of the stockpile facility for CAIS disposal. If a community agrees to consider using the stockpile facility (and only if it agrees), the Army should pursue that option with the full involvement of the community, including establishing specific conditions for the use of the facility. If the community agrees, which may be more feasible at facilities that use nonincineration technologies, the law prohibiting the use of chemical stockpile disposal facilities for any other purpose would have to be modified to allow CAIS disposal. An important current capability of the RRS is that it can characterize, separate, and repackage individual CAIS items. However, because of the inherent permitting problems and high costs of the mobile RRS option, the Army should aggressively pursue other options while continuing to implement the RRS.
OCR for page 10
Disposal of Chemical Agent Identification Sets: Review of the Army Non-Stockpile Chemical Material Disposal Program This page in the original is blank.
Representative terms from entire chapter: