Moving Forward on Open Waste Burning

The license that enables the Radford Army Ammunitions Plant to burn hazardous waste from guns outdoors is up for renewal. Community activists see an opportunity to address environmental and health concerns about the burning — and state regulators see a chance to explore new technology to solve an old problem. Just a handful of people turned in the Blacksburg Public Library on a recent day for a meeting of the Environmental Patriots of the New River Valley.

“Is there anything we could post to get more people involved? Yes, petitions, a letter campaign… When the EPA was pushed to the wall in Louisiana, they said ‘Uncle. ’ So, we need you Senator Kaine and you also Senator Warner to perform precisely what Senator Vitter did in Louisiana and write to the EPA and inquire ‘Just how is this not a breach of the clean air act? ’”

Devawn Oberlender is seeking to have a pager in the publication of a far away town, where taxpayer protestors succeeded in quitting outdoor burning explosives of arms and weapons waste in the Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant.

“The opportunity that we have at this time just comes up really ten decades, because the license is good for ten decades, so what we need to replicate is what they did in southern Louisiana in Camp Minden.

There they formed a”Stop the Burn” motion that finally brought together elected officials, state and local authorities and the military for a plan to give open burning up and use a modern indoor incinerator to dispose of the toxic substances. William Hayden is spokesman for DEQ in Virginia.

“We have not reached any decisions yet but that is something that will be considered as we proceed. We’ve requested the Arsenal to come up with alternatives to open burning and we do hope to have some choices that go beyond the idea of simply burning it the open”

Brian Salvatore is a professor of Organic chemistry at Louisiana State University who argued for utilizing contained incineration.

“This is what we fought for here in camp Minden. And yes it added another 15million dollars and almost doubled the cost of the contract but that was something that, the EPA was ready to go to bat for us for. So I’m grateful that the people in the EPA and from the state worked together here and they worked together with the Army too to locate the extra money. And we are quite satisfied here that this option — which, in the onset of this we didn’t know all the particulars of what these modern incinerators can perform. We’re quite confident here that this is going to perform the job and the amount of material that is going to be published complete will be on the order of tens of thousands of g as opposed to heaps of those emissions. ”

A spokesman for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 3, which includes Virginia, said it could not comment on the chance of incinerators like being embraced at the Radford site, but a spokesperson for BAE Systems, the contractor in charge of the arsenal, supported it’s”searching for viable alternatives to its existing procedures of waste disposal”

The department of Environmental Quality has requested BAE to conduct an environmental impact study on its own current open burning practice. William Hayden says it’s the first time DEQ has requested for you.

“Because we are getting into a problem that has generated a great deal of public interest from the Radford area we knew that the further information we had, the better. People from the public have been asking for us info; they’ve been requesting Radford (the toolbox ) for information. ”

And among them is Oberlender who says,”We have been burning waste on the market, open burning it since 1941. You know, it’s not going away.”

And neither are the environmental patriots of the river valley. Taking another page in the story of Camp Minden Louisiana’s successful effort to get its outdoor burning moved inside. They’re scheduling meetings with state and federal officials to keep the pressure on. The first is the Friday with U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith who sits on the Committee on Energy and Commerce, which has oversight of the EPA. The group is seeking to make a national issue out of one that has for so long been so neighborhood and among the few areas where open burning of hazardous waste out of explosives is still permitted.

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