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Alabama Files Suit Against Incinerator Plans

Date: February 14, 2002

Source: News Room

Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman has charged that the federal government reneged on plans to spend $40.5 million on gas masks and other safety measures to protect residents near an incinerator where the Army plans to begin destroying deadly nerve agents. Siegelman has sued the government seeking to block the opening of the $1 billion incinerator, located at the Anniston Army Depot, until the "maximum protection" required by law is provided. Incinerator officials said the continued storage of chemicals at the depot, not the incinerator, is the true problem. Siegelman said meetings between state officials and the Army resulted in an agreement last year to spend $40.5 million in federal funds on gas masks, protective hoods and other safety measures. The Federal Emergency Management Agency later decided against part of the expenditure, based on a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that cited logistical problems and "psychological effects" of the safety equipment on people living near the incinerator. The government is withholding only about $15.5 million, which was slated to purchase gas masks and protective suits. Instead of using the equipment, residents have been told to seal up rooms with plastic sheeting and duct tape if there is an accident.

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