The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Office of Congressional and government Affairs
At A Glance
Public Law
: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1998
: 105- 85
Session: 105th Congress (First Session)

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Conference Committee

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Section 152 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1996 (Public Law 104-106), directed the Secretary of Defense to conduct an assessment of the chemical stockpile disposal program and to consider measures that could be taken to reduce program costs, while continuing to ensure the maximum protection of the public, the workers, and the environment. Section 152 also required the Secretary to report the results of the assessment to the Congress with the submission of the fiscal year 1998 defense budget request. Consideration of the use of alternative demilitarization technologies (other than incineration) was to be specifically addressed.

The conferees support the Department of Defense (DOD) position and the National Research Council recommendation that the Army proceed with the current baseline incineration program until the evaluation of alternative chemical munitions destruction technologies is concluded. The conferees note the progress made in chemical demilitarization operations at Johnston Atoll and Tooele, Utah, the approval of environmental permits, and the award of the chemical demilitarization facility construction contract at Umatilla, Oregon, and the status of the environmental permitting process for the chemical demilitarization sites at Anniston, Alabama, and Pine Bluff Arsenal, Arkansas.

The conferees support the Department's decision to continue efforts to develop chemical neutralization technologies for destruction of the chemical agents at the bulk-only chemical storage sites. The conferees urge the appropriate and expeditious pursuit of any necessary National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis of the research and development efforts to support pilot testing of these alternative technologies for use at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, and Newport Chemical Depot, Indiana.

The conferees also agree with plans by the Department to assess the feasibility of alternative technologies for destruction of lethal chemical agents associated with assembled chemical munitions and would support the demonstration of those alternatives deemed feasible for potential use at the chemical demilitarization sites at Pueblo, Colorado, and Lexington-Blue Grass Army Depot, Kentucky. As required by Section 142 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997 (Public Law 104-201), the conferees expect the Secretary of Defense to submit a report to the Congress by December 31, 1997, that identifies the status of the assessment, the technologies that appear to be feasible, the plans for further assessment and demonstration of these technologies, and the potential impact on the cost and schedule for completion of destruction operations at Pueblo and Lexington-Blue Grass.

The conferees understand that a major aspect of the chemical non-stockpile materiel project is the development of a system for disposal of the chemical agent identification kits, which have been classified as chemical weapons/agents for the purpose of the chemical disposal program, rather than hazardous waste. The conferees direct the Secretary of Defense to conduct an assessment of its policy, which includes chemical agent identification kits in the chemical agent demilitarization program, the current plans for disposal, and the potential changes in policy and disposal alternatives that could result in significant reductions in the cost of the non-stockpile program with no reduction in overall program safety. The assessment shall be conducted in coordination with the National Research Council. The results of the assessment and the Secretary's decision should be provided to the congressional defense committees by March 31, 1998.