U.S. Water News Online
DOVER, Del. -- The governors of Delaware and New Jersey
said wastewater from the destruction of a deadly nerve agent should
be treated in Indiana, not at a DuPont facility along the Delaware
Govs. Ruth Ann Minner of Delaware and James McGreevey of New
Jersey stopped short of saying they would fight DuPont's plan to
treat up to 4 million gallons of hydrolysate, a caustic wastewater,
left over from the planned destruction of more than 1,200 tons of the
nerve agent VX at the Army's Newport Chemical Depot in Indiana.
But the governors said the Army and its contractors should
reconsider the plan to treat the hydrolysate at DuPont's Secure
Environmental Treatment facility in Deepwater, N.J.
``We believe that it is in the best interests of the citizens and
natural resources of the states of Delaware and New Jersey that the
ultimate compliance with the requirements of the Chemical Weapons
Convention takes place in close proximity to the Newport, Indiana,
depot,'' Minner and McGreevey said in a letter to be sent to acting
Army Secretary Les Brownlee.
``The governor has been an outspoken critic of this placement from
day one, and he is convinced it's a bad idea,'' said McGreevey
spokesman Micah Rasmussen. ``VX and the Delaware do not go
Minner said she is opposed to the plan as currently presented but
would be willing to consider any changes or additional information
presented by DuPont.
``We have a great deal of concern,'' she said.
Jeff Lindblad, a spokesman for the Army Chemical Materials Agency,
said military officials would review the letter and respond to the
issues raised by state officials.
Officials released a copy of the letter shortly before the
Delaware House of Representatives passed a resolution expressing the
General Assembly's opposition to the DuPont plan. The nonbinding
resolution was approved by the state Senate last month.
``The question is, is DuPont going to listen?'' said John Kearney,
director of the Delaware Clean Air Council and an outspoken critic of
The primary concern of state officials involves two compounds in
the wastewater, ethyl-methyl phosphonic acid and methyl phosphonic
acid, which would be dumped into the Delaware River virtually
untreated at the rate of more than two tons per day.
State officials say the two compounds are identified in the
Chemical Weapons Convention as posing significant risk, and that
simply diluting the acids before effluent is dumped into the river is
``There is little, if any, published information about the
environmental effects of these organic acids, and we are concerned
about using the Delaware River and Bay as the testing grounds,'' the
In addition to potential stimulation of algal blooms from
additional phosphorous in the bay, state regulators are concerned
about the risks of transporting the hydrolysate from Indiana to the
East Coast, and about residual VX in the wastewater, which could be
present in amounts shown to be lethal to striped bass.
John Hughes, secretary of the Delaware Department of Natural
Resources and Environmental Control, said DuPont has admitted that
the SET facility does not have the capability to fully treat the
phosphonic acids. But simply diluting the chemicals before dumping
them into the river and claiming there will be no harm to the
environment is not acceptable, he said.
``I think DuPont was uncharacteristically unconservative in their
estimates,'' said Hughes, adding that DNREC officials worked hard to
resist what he called ``a rush to judgment.''
``There has not been any deception that I've uncovered,'' Hughes
added. ``There's been optimism, which we can't afford in this
Earlier, DuPont announced that it would not accept an Army
contract for the project until the U.S. Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention completes a formal review. That review was requested
last month by the congressional delegations of Delaware and New
DuPont officials, who previously issued assurances that the
project poses no significant risk to the environment or public
health, also said they would address specific questions raised by
Delaware and New Jersey regulators and would seek an independent
review that could include studying the effluent to be dumped into
DuPont officials suggested that the independent study of the
effluent could involve a baseline assessment of the river before the
project begins and regular monitoring afterward.
``While we are confident in our science, we also understand that
the community and regulatory agencies have concerns and we want to
address them,'' said Nick Fanandakis, vice president and general
manager of DuPont Chemical Solutions Enterprise.
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.