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April 09, 1999

WCS still pursuing napalm contract

By Greg Harman
Odessa American

EUNICE, N.M. — The Navy’s primary contractor for napalm disposal will review a proposal from Waste Control Specialists to build a napalm-burning incinerator on lands recently donated by WCS to the Lea County Solid Waste Authority outside Eunice.

But WCS officials are downplaying the project’s possibility.

"I would describe this as the backup to a backup to a backup plan, with a very low probability of happening," said Waste Control lawyer John Kyte.

"If for some reason GNI (a Deer Park, Texas company) can’t handle the napalm, we will be available to receive, treat and ship it off for waste-derived fuel."

GNI won a contract from Battelle Memorial Institute last July to receive the napalm and prepare it for disposal.

Battelle is the Navy’s contractor for the disposal of 3.3 million gallons of napalm stored at Fallbrook Naval Weapons Support Facility.

WCS officials pitched the idea of accepting some of the napalm several weeks ago, said Robin Yocum, a spokesman with Battelle.

However, Yocum said there is an obstacle: WCS has nowhere to send the material.

"We are not interested in incinerating this stuff just for the sake of incinerating it," he said. "We have all along intended to have this burned for fuel."

That could be settled by the construction of a kiln in Eunice.

A railroad spur already exists that could bring the napalm — a mixture of 46 percent polystyrene, 33 percent gasoline and 21 percent benzene — into Lea County, Kyte said.

The power generated through burning the napalm by such a kiln could be sold and sent to the power grid, he added. Or it could feed the WCS operations across the state line in Andrews County.

Industrial kilns require "very high quality fuel" and burn "extremely clean," Kyte said.

The napalm is being shipped to GNI for mixing. From there, it is sent to Chem Waste Management Facility in Port Arthur for disposal.

"They are doing a splendid job," Yocum said of GNI. "We are delighted with the work they are doing."

But Kyte said GNI has had difficulties.

"GNI was shipping to Port Arthur, but that option is no longer available and they have been unable to find someone else to take it."

GNI spokesperson Bill Reeves confirmed there have been holdups.

Small quantities of the waste are still going to Port Arthur, but the larger user of napalm, a sulfuric acid regeneration furnace in Baton Rouge, La., owned by Rhodia, has been forced to stop taking the fuel.

"They are on hold because the governor asked that shipments not occur on a regular basis until he has looked the project over," Reeves said.

Since then, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality has sent the governor a written recommendation supporting the project, Reeves added.

"We should be back up in the next few weeks."

But 3.3 million gallons may not disappear so quickly, Yocum conceded, and it may become necessary to contract out with other companies.

That is why Battelle has agreed to hear a proposal from WCS, he said.

Gayle Garner, general counsel for Camino Real, the environmental engineering group hired to run the Lea County landfill, said the solid waste landfill probably would open in June.

But the incinerator proposal is a separate matter from the landfill, he said.

"We are only interested spectators in this," he said.


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