From the October 2002 Idaho Observer:
Toxic incineration to go forward on such solid ground as It's believed, and it appears
by Don Harkins
At the corner of Highway 395 and Interstate 84 a few miles west of Hermiston, Oregon, is the Umatilla Army Depot. At that location, in plain sight for as far as the eye can see are hundreds of 20' x 40' earth-burmed buildings that have been storing the nation's chemical and biological weapons arsenal for decades. They are about to be incinerated. Officials believe the incineration program will be safe.
The Portland Oregonian reported late in September that toxic substances expert Peter Spencer of the Oregon Health and Science University was one of the researchers that produced a report that indicates soldiers who may have encountered small amounts of chemical weapons during the Gulf War do not seem to be sicker than other veterans of that war with Iraq. But troops who served anywhere in the Middle East during the war do seem to have more chronic illnesses than U.S. soldiers who served outside the Persian Gulf region in 1991. It's believed the Gulf War syndrome has a significant stress component, Spencer said.
Based upon this study, Spencer believes that the incineration of extremely toxic weapons grade substances at Umatilla, ...should not release enough nerve agent in their exhaust gas to cause long term health problems. Spencer also commented that the army's incinerator, appears to be protective for community health.
Though the area is sparsely populated, thousands of people live in dozens of small towns that could be affected by the incineration program. It seems that the health of people in the area may be dependent upon a lot of scientific uncertainty. Considering the military's track record for having zero concern for the health of people in the testing of chemical and biological agents, and considering that the most toxic places on earth are the result of U.S. military research and development, it is impossible to believe that the incineration program will not cause considerable damage to the regional environment and the lives of citizens and army personnel.
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