Residents of the Palatinate region of southwest Germany are fighting to prevent the expansion of a US Army Europe hazardous chemical storage facility, which would make it the US military’s largest warehouse of its kind in Europe.
Since 2013, the warehouse has provided US forces operating across Europe with chemicals such as fuel additives and de-icing agents. The US army plans to increase its capacity 27-fold – from 70 tons at the moment, to 1,900 tons. According to the plans, the warehouse will provide US forces not only with lubricants and oils, but with 50 tons of the most hazardous chemicals.
The US military’s Defense Logistics Agency has lodged an application for planning permission with the district authorities of Germersheim. However, the application lists only the class to which the toxic substances belong and not the actual names of the chemicals. Local residents are anxious to find out exactly what is going to be stored there and the damage the substances could do.
The local planning office made the application available for local residents to read for four weeks, after which they had two weeks to file any objections to the plans. Last week, local officials told Sputnik Deutschland that they had already received almost 40 complaints – the two-week period is due to expire August 7.
Michael Gauly, Director of the Department of Building, Environment, Waste Management at the district administration of Germersheim, told Sputnik that most of the objections relate to health and safety concerns.
“The objections relate mainly to the storage of hazardous substances and to the possibility of [chemical] reactions in the event of an accident,” Gauly said.
“Even if many substances are classed as less dangerous, it is still unclear how the substances would react in the event of a possible accident and contact with one another,” he warned.
In its application, the US Defense Logistics Agency has revealed the “representative substances” it intends to store from each group, but critics of the plan suspect that the military intends to store more unusual chemicals, which could be used for more than simple logistical purposes.
For example, two of the highly toxic substances listed in the planning application are cadmium fluoride and dimethyl sulphate. The latter compound is a potential chemical weapon and was used in the trenches during the First World War.
Objections have also been raised about whether the warehouse adheres to Germany’s Prohibition of Chemicals Ordinance, which was revised in March. Continue reading.