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Burning of Chemical Weapons Delayed Until Judge Can Rule

August 06, 2003|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Army agreed Tuesday to postpone today's burning of chemical weapons at an incinerator in Anniston, Ala., until a federal judge can consider an environmental group's request for a restraining order.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson set a hearing for Friday morning to consider a motion by the Chemical Weapons Working Group for a temporary restraining order blocking the Army from starting the incinerator.

Army officials released a statement Tuesday afternoon announcing the decision but expressing confidence the judge would quickly reject the motion without further delay.

"The Army believes that it has fully complied with all legal requirements pertaining to the [incinerator] start-up and emphasizes that public safety remains its primary concern," said spokesman Mike Abrams.

Abrams said it wasn't clear when the incineration would begin even if the environmental group's request is rejected.

The Army had planned to move the chemical weapons into a storage facility Tuesday afternoon -- a required step before incineration can begin. As part of Tuesday's agreement, no weapons will be moved until after the judge rules.

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