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Lawmakers request more info from Army

Lawmakers request more info from Army
Lawmakers on every level of government have turned up the heat on the United States Army, requesting more information before hundreds of jobs are relocated from the Milan Arsenal to a sister facility in Iowa.
The Army has also recommended that the Milan arsenal be used to store depleted uranium (DU), which is radioactive and has a shelf life of 4.5 billion years.
A large contingency of lawmakers made a plea to the Army and Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen for an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to be conducted by an independent third party.
Congressman John Tanner, and United States Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, along with State Senators Lowe Finney and Roy Herron have all asked for an EIS to be conducted.  State Representatives Curtis Halford and Mark Maddox, along with Milan Mayor Chris Crider also made a request for an EIS.
An EIS would describe in detail the impacts on the community for the Army’s proposed plan. 
The EIS would include environmental values (land, water, air, structures, and all living organisms) at the site, and reveal impacts of social, cultural, and economic aspects.
Milan Mayor Chris Crider said the Army hasn’t provided nearly enough information before making such a dramatic decision and has provided no realistic plan of what will become of the 21,000-acre facility once production lines cease.
“The Army’s claim that moving 600 jobs from our community will have a minimal impact on our economy is laughable,” said Crider.  “The Environmental Assessment (EA) the Army provided us is full of inaccurate information.  An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) should be ordered immediately,” he said.
Senator Roy Herron called AO’s proposal “a terrible idea” and said he too would fight for an EIS to be conducted.
“I strongly oppose this proposal, and there is absolutely cause for a full and compete EIS,” he said.  “For us to trade 600 jobs for a nuclear waste dump is terribly wrong and would be a generational black eye that would cost us thousands of jobs over time,” he said.
State Senator Lowe Finney hand delivered a request for help last Monday to Governor Phil Bredesen.
“Gibson County currently faces a 14.2 percent unemployment rate,” Finney said.
“There is no question that moving hundreds of jobs from Gibson County right now would be crippling to this already-struggling rural county.”
Finney was outraged about the Army’s plan for Milan to become a nuclear waste facility and also wants an EIS to be conducted before any production equipment is moved.
DU has long been a subject of controversy because of questions about potential long-term health effects.
DU exposure has been liked to malfunctions of the kidney, brain, liver, heart, and numerous other systems because it is radioactive and toxic.
The aerosol produced during impact and combustion of depleted uranium munitions can potentially contaminate wide areas around the impact sites or can be inhaled by civilians and military personnel.
“They want us to trade jobs for radioactive waste. This is totally unacceptable,” Finney said.
“Not only could our land be contaminated, but it could prevent other industry from locating to Milan and surrounding communities.  An EIS will go a long way toward keeping this plant in Milan,” Finney said.
Finney also asked Tennessee’s Congressional delegation to join him in the fight to save Milan arsenal jobs and keep the hazardous nuclear waste out of this state.
On Friday, U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, along with Con. John Tanner sent a request to the Secretary of the Army at the Pentagon asking for an EIS to be conducted.
“We are writing to express our concern with the Milan Army Ammunition Plant Environmental Assessment,” they said.
“It appears the EA has been used as a justification for an already-announced decision to relocate ammunition production from MLAAP to Iowa Army Ammunition Plant. The EA contains factual errors and optimistic assumptions. It appears that the EA was prepared after a decision regarding the consolidation of the ammunition plant was already made.
“We believe unrealistic assumptions have been used in the EA to justify allegedly minor socioeconomic impacts to the affected region surrounding Milan.
“For example, the assumption that new tenants will result in a range of 260 to 580 job opportunities is optimistic and devoid of any verifiable data provided.”
The letter continued, “With the potential for increased storage and demilitarization of depleted uranium and other hazardous industrial activities, we are concerned that the current EA does not fully examine the significant environmental effects of these likely tenants.
“This alone results in considerable uncertainty and necessitates a more comprehensive (EIS) environmental impact statement.”   
The three lawmakers are also suspicious about the company that prepared the EA.
“We are concerned that the Army has allowed an interested party (Malcolm Pirnie) to prepare an environmental decision document. Please provide us with an explanation of the contract used to retain Malcom Pirnie in preparation of the EA, what role American Ordnance played in preparation of the draft or final EA, and copies of any disclosure statements to avoid conflicts of interest,” they said.
In closing, Alexander, Corker and Tanner requested that the Army provide public hearings and prepare a full environmental impact statement to determine the comprehensive effects of the proposed federal action.
State Rep. Curtis Halford said an EIS is vital before the Army makes such an important decision that will have long lasting ramifications on West Tennessee.
“I have seen the signs in people’s yards all across the area saying: ‘Help save Milan Arsenal Jobs.’ I think that says it all. It is time for all of us to join together and take up the issue.
“I am asking for the Army to conduct an EIS (Economic Impact Statement) in order that the real answers to these issues can be told in the best interest of the people of West Tennessee.”