U.S. Water News Online
NEWPORT, Ind. -- The Army will send samples of VX to
laboratories in Illinois and Maryland to test the process it intends
to use to destroy the deadly nerve agent, officials said.
The tests will determine whether the wastewater resulting from the
nerve agent's destruction is safe to transport from the Newport
Chemical Depot to a final disposal site along the Delaware River in
New Jersey, military officials said.
``Testing these samples is critical to ensuring we are prepared to
safely destroy the VX at Newport,'' depot commander Lt. Col. Joseph
Marquart said in a news release.
Technicians will extract samples of VX from its carbon steel
containers, the news release said. The samples will be packaged and
escorted to Army laboratories in Edgewood, Md., and contractor
laboratories in Illinois, Marquart said.
The Army will ensure safe transport of the samples, the news
The VX will be neutralized at the labs and the byproduct will be
tested, the Army said. The hydrolysate would not be allowed to leave
Indiana unless the concentration of VX is no more than 20 parts per
The military safely shipped VX in 1995 when some containers were
checked to ensure the nerve agent was pure, said Army spokeswoman
A single drop of liquid VX can cause paralysis and death within
minutes. About 1,269 tons of the Cold War-era nerve agent are stored
at the depot north of Terre Haute. The VX was scheduled to be
destroyed by April 2007 under the Chemical Weapons Convention
The Army plans to begin neutralizing the VX at Newport this summer
by mixing it with hot water and sodium hydroxide. The resulting
chemical would be hydrolysate, which scientists compare to liquid
Under the Army proposal, the hydrolysate would be shipped to
DuPont's Secure Environmental Treatment facility in Deepwater, N.J.,
located at the foot of the Delaware Memorial Bridge. DuPont would
break down the chemicals in the wastewater and dump effluent
containing some chemical byproducts into the Delaware River.
The Army estimates the entire process would take about two years.
More than 500 citizens attended informational sessions recently
held by the Army in New Jersey and Delaware and expressed opposition
to the plan, fearing the chemical would pollute the river or might
even reform into VX.
The Army dropped a previous plan to ship the hydrolysate to
Dayton, Ohio, after similar opposition developed there.
``Ohio took a stand and won, and our citizens don't want the
Delaware River further polluted,'' said John Kearney, spokesman for
the Delaware Clean Air Council. ``We don't want VX waste transported
across the country to our community.''
the U.S. Water News Archives page
Return to the U.S. Water
Use a comma to separate e-mail addresses:
Hi, I thought you might like to read this article.