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Disposal of Chemical Agent Identification Sets: Review of the Army Non-Stockpile Chemical Material Disposal Program
assessment of its policy, which includes chemical agent identification kits in the chemical agent demilitarization program, the current plans for disposal, and the potential changes in policy and disposal alternatives that could result in significant reductions in the cost of the non-stockpile program with no reduction in overall program safety. The assessment shall be conducted in coordination with the National Research Council. The results of the assessment and the Secretary's decision should be provided to the congressional defense committees by March 31, 1998.
Initial Interpretation and Evolution of the Task
The committee interpreted the congressional direction as stipulating two constraints to the scope of its first-year reporting task. First, the committee's report should be an evaluation of the Army's report, not a separate exploration of a broad range of technical possibilities unrelated to what Congress specifically requested from the Secretary of Defense. Second, the disposal options considered should be consistent with the congressional interest in "potential changes in policy and disposal alternatives that could result in significant reductions in the cost of the non-stockpile program with no reduction in overall program safety." As explained in Chapter 4, the Army's report to Congress focused on the use of commercial disposal facilities for CAIS disposal as the option that could most significantly reduce cost without reducing overall safety. Therefore, a major focus of this report is the Army's proposed plan for using commercial facilities to dispose of CAIS. The Army's "current plans for disposal" at the time of the congressional request depended primarily on the Rapid Recovery System (RRS), a transportable processing facility that neutralizes CAIS chemicals in a small chemical reactor. Thus, the RRS, as the "baseline" system for CAIS disposal against which commercial disposal was evaluated, is another focus of this report.
When the committee began to investigate the commercial option for CAIS disposal, it learned that commercial facilities with the appropriate permits and technology would probably use incineration to dispose of CAIS. In exploratory interviews by committee staff with some of the commercial firms surveyed by the Army, the firms said that because of the reliability of incineration and "simple economics," they would use incineration for the disposal of CAIS, even if nonincineration-based disposal technologies were available. The Army's report to Congress did not specify the disposal technologies that would be used by a commercial facility to dispose of CAIS.
Given the long history of public reaction to the incineration-based disposal of the stockpile materiel (see Public/Stakeholder Involvement in Chapter 3), the committee decided that the issue of whether commercial disposal would involve incineration or nonincineration technologies could significantly affect the feasibility of a commercial disposal alternative to the RRS. Representative nonincineration technologies that are, or reasonably could be, employed by a commercial treatment, storage, and disposal facility (TSDF) were therefore included in this report. Finally, a potentially low-cost option that may satisfy stringent technical criteria is the use of nonincineration facilities designed for the disposal of stockpile materiel. However, this option raises significant issues of federal law, Army policy, and commitments made by both Congress and the Army to affected stakeholders.
Two deployment options for the RRS are evaluated in this report: the baseline approach, in which the RRS is transported to each site where CAIS are stored or found, and a fixed RRS mode, in which RRSs are located at one or more sites, to which CAIS from other sites are transported. In addition to the RRS, which is an Army facility dedicated to CAIS disposal, a technologically feasible alternative would be an Army facility designed for disposal of non-stockpile materiel in general, including CAIS. The committee did not evaluate that option for this report because it goes beyond the