|Assessment of Milan Arsenal finally released
|Posted: Tuesday, June 8, 2010 9:14 pm
|Two years after a multi-million dollar contract was awarded to American Ordnance, the U.S. Army Joint Munitions Command (JMC) has finally completed an environmental assessment (EA) of the environmental and socio-economic impacts that may result in the vicinity of Milan Army Ammunition Plant from the Army’s award of a contract to American Ordnance for the operation of Milan and Iowa AAPs.
As expected, the EA concluded that losing hundreds of arsenal jobs “will have only minimal and temporary effects upon the environment and socioeconomics of the region surrounding MLAAP”
The Army is allowing a 30-day public comment period to review the 162-page document and respond with any questions or concerns.
The document is available online at http://www.jmc.army.mil/milan-ea.pdf and will be available at these libraries: Mildred G. Fields Public Library, 1075a E. Van Hook Street, Milan; Carroll County Library, 625 Main St., Huntingdon; and Jackson-Madison County Library, North 433 E. Lafayette St, Jackson.
Area Chambers of Commerce, as well as the local United Steel Workers Union believe the Army violated EPA laws requiring the EA to be released closer to the timing of the contract.
Law 40 CFR Ch. V (7–1–02 Edition) § 1502.5 Timing, states; “An agency shall commence preparation of an environmental impact statement as close as possible to the time the agency is developing or is presented with a proposal so that preparation can be completed in time for the final statement to be included in any recommendation or report on the proposal. The statement shall be prepared early enough so that it can serve practically as an important contribution to the decision-making process and will not be used to rationalize or justify decisions already made.”
Leaders of both organizations contend that the entire West Tennessee area will be significantly affected when production lines at the arsenal are closed down.
The Milan-Gibson County Chamber of Commerce asked businesses and chamber members throughout West Tennessee to participate in the group’s own economic impact study.
Weakley County was asked to join in the study to determine the impact it would sustain if several workers at the plant form Greenfield were to lose their jobs.
One recent study concludes the state of Tennessee will feel a $200 million economic impact.
Milan Public Utilities will lose about $1,000,000 in annual revenues, and Gibson and Carroll Counties combined will lose $1,200,000 in tax revenue.
United Steel Workers officials also contend that the EA should have also included information about the plant in Iowa, who will inherit all of the Milan’s production jobs.
The local USW have retained two different attorneys to represent them in the appeal.
In January 2008, Joint Munitions Command issued a competitive request for proposals for the operation and maintenance of both plants.
In its proposal, AO proposed to relocate production of munitions and subassemblies from Milan AAP to Iowa AAP.
These items include the 40-millimeter family of munitions, M-112 Demo Block, Mine Clearing Line Charge, Spider, 60mm and 81mm mortars, and mortar components.
American Ordnance Plant Manager Bruce Niven said he could not comment on the findings of the EA because it was an Army document.
“I’m not sure who made the calculations, but I know they looked at a much broader area than the city of Milan. The public has a 30-day comment period, but I’m not sure what the Army will do with that information.
“I know there are legislatures out there working against this, and the Union is putting up yard signs all over town. There will be a lot of activity over the next 30 days I’m sure,” he said.
Niven said if anything about the contract were to change, it would have to be done by the Army.
“This boils down to the fact that American Ordnance is executing a model approved by the Army,” he said.
State Senator Lowe Finney said he was worried about what losing the jobs would do to West Tennessee.
“I am greatly troubled by the environmental assessment’s apparent miscalculations and failure to accurately take into account the consequences of losing the Milan Arsenal to Iowa,” he said.
“The Milan Arsenal has long served as the backbone to the Milan community, and these jobs are important to West Tennessee. I have and will continue to voice my concerns to Congressman Tanner and Sens. Alexander and Corker in hopes that the federal government will be able to keep these jobs here. An adequate and correct assessment study will go a long way toward that end.”