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May 20, 2005

Contact: Fred Mumford
(609) 984-1795


Treatment of VX Nerve Agent from Army Excluded

(05/64) TRENTON -- Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today released a draft surface water discharge permit for the DuPont Chambers Works plant in Salem County. The wastewater permit does not allow treatment of a neutralized VX nerve agent byproduct, which is part of a proposed plan by the U.S. Army and also under scrutiny by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

"New Jersey continues to oppose the United States Army's proposal to transport nerve agent waste from the Newport Chemical Depot in Indiana to DuPont's Chambers Works environmental treatment facility in New Jersey," said Acting Governor Richard J. Codey. "At my direction, DEP issued a new draft permit for the facility that precludes acceptance of the nerve agent waste unless and until the proposal is subject to rigorous and independent review."

In 2004, DuPont informed DEP that it was considering a proposal to accept and treat hydrolysate, which is the neutralized VX nerve agent byproduct, in its wastewater treatment plant. The VX nerve agent resides in a stockpile at a U.S. Army base in Indiana, where the neutralization has begun.

Acting Governor Codey today issued a letter to Secretary of the United States Army Francis J. Harvey stating New Jersey's reasons for opposing the transport of VX hydrolysate for treatment at the DuPont facility.

"The Army's proposal is flawed, and should be abandoned not revised," said Commissioner Campbell. "If it is revised, DEP will conduct a thorough review of any new information concerning the treatment of VX hydrolysate at the DuPont plant and require a comprehensive public comment process."

The CDC and EPA issued a report on April 4, 2005 concerning the VX hydrolysate proposal. However, CDC and EPA are still reviewing details of a new treatability study removal technology developed by DuPont. Because this treatability is an integral part of DuPont's proposal and a full review has not been completed, it is premature for DEP's draft wastewater discharge permit renewal to include any requirements for VX hydrolysate. Further, DEP included specific language in the draft permit renewal that states the acceptance of VX hydrolysate is prohibited at this time. Any decision to approve or deny such a plan would be subject to further public notice and comment.

This proposed permit action serves to renew an existing New Jersey Pollution Discharge Elimination System/Discharge to Surface Water permit. DuPont submitted a renewal application on July 30, 2003 before the permit expired, which has been under DEP review.

The existing facility discharges wastewater to the Delaware River from three outfalls. The first outfall discharges non-contact cooling water, storm water and treated wastewater. The second outfall discharges storm water from non-process areas of the facility but is inactive as flows have been diverted to the wastewater treatment plant. The third outfall discharges non-contact cooling water from the facility's powerhouse. Effluent limitations and monitoring requirements are also imposed at the end of the wastewater treatment facility at an internal monitoring point just before it combines with non-contact cooling water and storm water.

The draft permit renewal contains a number of limits and/or conditions that are more stringent than the existing permit. A summary of some of the conditions is as follows:

  • Inclusion of comprehensive whole effluent toxicity monitoring at the first outfall for two species to assess any acute and chronic effects on aquatic life. An acute whole effluent toxicity limit has been retained at the internal monitoring point to assess any acute effects on one species where comprehensive toxicity reduction requirements are required if the effluent does not meet this standard.

  • Imposition of water quality based effluent limits at the first outfall for certain parameters to ensure that water quality standards are attained for acute effects.

  • More stringent limits at the internal monitoring point as well as several new limits based on federal effluent limitation guidelines.

  • More comprehensive concentration-based reporting requirements at the first outfall for several parameters.

The Chambers Works facility is located in Pennsville and Carneys Point, Salem County and is a multi-product chemical manufacturing plant. The wastewater treatment plant receives wastewater generated from several manufacturing operations as well as commercial off-site wastes. The facility also will soon be receiving partially treated sanitary wastewater from two nearby publicly owned treatment works for further treatment via the wastewater treatment plant. Treatment at the wastewater treatment plant consists of steam stripper pretreatment, peroxide oxidation pretreatment, sludge and solids dewatering, metals precipitation, primary clarification, secondary and tertiary biological powdered activated carbon, and pH control at various points in the process.

Written comments or a request that DEP hold a public hearing on the draft document may be submitted in writing to Attention: Comments on Public Notice NJ0005100, Bureau of Point Source Permitting Region 2, P.O. Box 029, Trenton, NJ 08625 by the close of the public comment period scheduled for July 1, 2005.




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Last Updated: May 20, 2005