U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) recently joined senators Wayne Allard (R-Colo.) and Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) in sponsoring legislation to stop the Department of Defense (DOD) from studying the feasibility of transporting the nerve agent VX across state lines. The study would risk delaying the neutralization process that is ready to begin at Newport and would waste taxpayer dollars on an issue where the answer is already known, according to a news release from Bayh's office.
"This study is a perfect example of government waste and redundance," Sen. Bayh said. "We don't need an expensive, time-consuming study on transporting VX across state lines when we already know doing so is against the law. We need is to start neutralizing the VX now at the site we built exactly for that purpose."
It is currently against the law to transport chemicals such as VX across state lines. Bayh's legislation will prevent the DOD from initiating a study on options for shipping the VX currently stored at Newport and at sites in Colorado and Kentucky to out-of-state destruction sites. The study, requested on Jan. 19, would likely put the neutralization process on hold while the DOD examined various options, a move made all the more unnecessary given the fact that a neutralization facility already exists at Newport.
Construction of the Newport Chemical Depot's neutralization facility cost roughly $250 million and requires thousands of dollars each day to maintain, as employees and residents wait for final approval before the neutralization process can begin. The delay from the DOD study would likely add to the cost.
Since September 2001, Bayh has worked to ensure the safe neutralization of the VX at Newport, securing funds to guard the site from potential terrorist attacks and working with the Army to speed the neutralization process. Bayh has led the effort to ensure a fast and safe neutralization process for the remaining 1,269 tons of VX nerve agent stored at the Newport facility, and has been a leading advocate of eliminating chemical weapon stockpiles around the country that serve as potential terrorist targets.