Pact signed to treat mustard-agent waste

Proving ground will pay $30 million to DuPont


Chemical giant DuPont signed a $30 million contract yesterday to treat liquid waste created by Aberdeen Proving Ground's accelerated mustard disposal project, ending speculation among community activists that the Army would not be able to find a private company willing to treat the material.

Lee Smith, project manager for Bechtel Aberdeen, which is building APG's mustard agent destruction plant, said the contract will quiet naysayers. "We solved it," he said. "We've got DuPont on board."

"I think we had confidence that this would happen from way back," said Joseph Lovrich, Army site project manager. "We wanted to see it in ink. That always helps."

FOR THE RECORD - An article in Thursday's editions incorrectly reported the schedule for destroying the mustard agent stockpile at Aberdeen Proving Ground. Destruction of the agent is scheduled to start in March 2003. The Sun regrets the error.

DuPont will negotiate with a trucking company to haul about 7 million gallons of hydrolysate - the byproduct of neutralizing the mustard agent in hot water and a caustic solution - to the company's Chamber Works plant in Deepwater, N.J., where it will be treated using bacteria-filled sludge.

DuPont will use some of the contract to upgrade storage capacity, pipes and other equipment to Army and international treaty standards for chemical agent destruction, Smith said.

After the terrorist attacks Sept. 11, the Army announced plans to accelerate the destruction of mustard agent, a blistering carcinogenic liquid by almost three years. But the project stalled after a critical federal funding appropriation was not included in President Bush's supplemental budget.

Destruction is likely to end in March, said Katherine DeWeese, an Army spokeswoman.

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