Veolia nearing other milestone with destruction of material

Published 11:23 pm Thursday, February 26, 2009

Port Arthur’s Veolia Environmental group announced the company completed incinerating more than one million gallons of a caustic wastewater of the former nerve agent VX earlier this year.

Now the company is nearly complete incinerating a mixture of GB, or Sarin, nerve agent and its decontamination breakdown products.

According to a press release from the company, two trucks holding the caustic wastewater known as hydrolysate from three deteriorating steel containers in Kentucky were received this week at Veolia in Port Arthur.

Mitch Osborne, Veolia plant manager, said this was the first time the material was shipped from Blue Grass Army Depot in Kentucky. The plant is undergoing a turn-around project and is keeping the hydrolysate in storage and will destroy it next week when the turn-around is completed.

“We have previously processed over 400 loads of this and there’s no difference,” Osborne said. “We’ll safely do it. We had a shipment weeks ago and there was no problem in transporting or off-loading. This is money saved for the federal government that’s a good thing right now.”

Osborne said the company may get another shipment in the future, depending whether the depot in Kentucky builds a facility there that would destroy the material, or continue shipping it to facilities like Veolia in Port Arthur.

Arrival of the shipment brings the operation one step closer to completion. The project was initiated in late summer 2007 after one of the containers leaked and the others showed similar signs of corrosion, according to the press statement.

Hilton Kelley, executive director of CIDA — Community In-Power Development Association — said the organization supports the destruction of the hydrolysate in this situation because the material was leaking and posed a direct danger to the population there.

“We didn’t protest it on humanitarian grounds, but I want to reiterate Port Arthur, Texas, should not be considered the dumping ground of the United States,” Kelley said.

He added the organization will protest any future shipments of hazardous material to the area and they hope elected officials in Southeast Texas will stand with them the next time.

“It will take a community effort to stop the degradation,” Kelley said.

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