The Russian disposal program also has been met with strong public protests over incineration. In 1989, thousands of residents forced the government to abandon its first major destruction plant at Chapayevsk, in central Russia. The plant would have used a combination of chemical neutralization and incineration.
Environmental damage at Chapayevsk "has been tremendous," said Kevin J. Flamm, an official in the U.S. Army chemical weapons destruction office at Aberdeen who is helping the Russian government organize its disposal program.
Similarly, residents around Aberdeen, home of the U.S. Army's chemical weapons research program and a former site of weapons-manufacturing plants, say they don't trust their government's plan to destroy about 1,500 tons of mustard agent in a proposed $438 million incinerator.
The Aberdeen-area residents point to existing environmental contamination at the 72,000-acre installation.
Some say they fear the Army is attempting to persuade the Russian government to burn its stockpile, so it can help justify its own plan.
U.S. officials deny that charge.
"It's not a matter of forcing anything down the Russians' throats," said Mr. Flamm, who is chief of technology exchange and treaty compliance for the Army's Chemical Materiel Destruction Agency.