The Puzzling Case of the NSCMP and RMA
In 2000, a press release was drafted from us gals in Sierra Club and the Chem Weapons Working Group (CWWG ) asking the Army to consider alternate means of disposing of sarin bomblets. At the time, the Army was using open detonate “technology” for dealing with potentially unstable materiel, setting off the bomblets in the Arsenal acreage. While we understood the volatility of these weapons and urgency of disposal, open air detontation of Sarin bomblets compromised air quality, public health, and the safety of neighborhoods surrounding RMA.
After much discussion between Colorado Department of Health and Environment (CDPHE), Army, and the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency’s Non-Stockpile Chemical Materiel Project (NSCMP), the Explosive Device System (EDS) was brought to the Arsenal from its testbed in Porton Down, UK, as an alternative technology to replace open detonation of bomblets and crude air and weather monitoring.
A huge part of the EDS story involves the NSCMP in providing me with an on the ground education in understanding programmatic authority and other issues involved in using the EDS at RMA. Below are behind the scenes conversations between the CDPHE and myself about the bomblets, NSCMP authority, and the EDS:
Also relevant to the EDS discussion is the NSCMP’s Survey and Analysis Report, (2nd ed.); note the section on the Arsenal, but yet the NSCMP’s role was relegated to observer status in Arsenal cleanup. This was of constant amazement (and consternation) to many citizens who served on the Arsenal’s Restoration Advisory Board and the Site Specific Advisory Board. The existence of this report – issued BEFORE the Arsenal’s Record of Decision – would have influenced a better informed cleanup and indeed strengthened the programmatic authority of the NSCMP in working on other nonstockpile sites throughout the country. The history of NSCMP participation on former chem weapons sites remains compelling case study into (I think) DoD, and specifically, Army culture.