US Army wins lawsuit over transportation of chemical waste

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A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Indiana ruled Friday that the US Army will be able to complete its shipment of chemical waste from a location in western Indiana to Port Arthur, Texas, where the material will be incinerated. The Sierra Club and other citizen groups had filed the lawsuit in an attempt to block the Army from hauling the neutralized remains of the Cold-War era chemical weapon called VX. The groups had argued that the Army characterized the material, also called hydrolysate, as having less of an amount of VX and other toxic byproducts than it actually did. Chief Judge Larry McKinney held that the waste being shipped was not a munition or chemical agent, and rejected the argument that the Army had not fully considered the risk of shipping the material across the country. Most of the 1,513,994 gallons of the waste had already been shipped and the last portion had left the Newport Chemical Depot in Indiana on September 4. A spokesman for the Chemical Weapons Working Group said the groups would not appeal the ruling since the shipment was essentially complete.

The destruction of the VX nerve agent began in May 2005, in accordance with the requirements of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Over 180 nations have signed on to the Convention since it entered into force in 1997. Under the Convention, banned weapons, including nerve and mustard gases, had to be destroyed by June 2007, though countries could apply for a five-year extension.

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