Walden Cosponsors Legislation to Prevent Interstate Transport of Chemical Weapons
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Bipartisan bill would prevent Defense Department from studying possible movement of hazardous material into Oregon
WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Representative Greg Walden (R-OR) announced today that he is cosponsoring H.R. 416, legislation prohibiting the Department of Defense (DOD) from expending funds for the study of interstate transportation of chemical munitions. Walden met with leaders at the Umatilla Chemical Depot yesterday after being given a tour of the facility and a firsthand look at its operations, one of several meetings scheduled during a three-day visit to eastern Oregon. He will be officially added to the list of cosponsors when the Congress reconvenes from their spring district work period on April 5.
"Public safety and homeland security must be considered before all else when talking about the destruction of these dangerous chemical weapons," said Walden. "I don't want to run any risk of chemical exposure as a result of a traffic accident or even a terrorist attack."
"I applaud the good work being done at the Umatilla Chemical Depot and the progress being made to destroy the weapons stored here in Oregon," continued Walden. "Being at the Depot and hearing concerns from facility and community leaders only reaffirms my belief that transporting weapons is a potentially dangerous alternative that we simply should not explore."
Introduced by Representative John Salazar (D-CO), H.R. 416 is bipartisan legislation that would preclude the DOD from continuing studies or beginning new studies that look at the interstate transfer of chemical weapons as a way to speed up the demilitarization process in order to meet a 2012 deadline for destruction established by the Chemical Weapons Convention Treaty signed in 1993.
In response to that fast-approaching deadline as well as increased costs for the elimination of the weapons, the Defense Acquisition Board met last fall and directed the Army to consider alternative solutions to getting the demilitarization program's timeline back on target. One such possibility was the transfer of weapons currently being stored at sites with no destruction facility to those with existing facilities.
"Budgets are tight and we are up against deadlines, but we have a responsibility to focus on the surest route to safety as we work toward the destruction of chemical weapon stockpiles," said Walden
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