Thursday, October 9, 2003

Dayton nervous over nerve gas residue

The Associated Press

DAYTON - A permit for the discharge of byproducts created in the destruction of a deadly nerve agent has been denied, at least until questions and concerns are addressed.

Montgomery County Sanitary Engineer Jim Brueggeman told the county commission Tuesday night that his department would not issue a permit for Perma-Fix of Dayton to discharge the treated byproducts into the county wastewater system.

"The sanitary department has determined that Perma-Fix's proposal cannot be approved given the considerable number of unanswered questions, incomplete, missing or inadequate data, apparent treatment process deficiencies and the risks - health and ecological - involved," Brueggeman said.

The permit denial would block Perma-Fix from accepting an Army contract to treat and discharge up to a million gallons of hydrolysate, a byproduct created in the destruction of VX nerve agent.

The Army plans to begin shipping hydrolysate from Newport, Ind., as early as January. Perma-Fix would be paid $9 million to dispose of the first 330,000 gallons of the caustic material.

Brueggeman said he won't reconsider Perma-Fix's application until the company responds to concerns raised by Bruce Rittmann, a professor of environmental engineering at Northwestern University hired by the county as a consultant.

Rittmann said in a report that while Perma-Fix's processing method is based on sound science, it is still too new and experimental to be done without more testing, better monitoring and a study to determine its impact on wildlife.

Perma-Fix chief executive Lou Centofanti called many aspects of Rittmann's report "reasonable and prudent."

"We are taking a close look at the issues in this report," he said. Army officials have said the report will be one element in their decision whether to transport hydrolysate to the plant.

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