The Army will allow more time for Utahns to comment on an environmental study of its overall biological defense research program, of which Dugway Proving Ground is a major component.
Both the Utah Medical Association and the Utah Department of Health had asked for an extension of the May 4 deadline, saying 30 days was not enough time to review the 2-inch-thick final environmental impact statement.Health Department Executive Director Suzanne Dandoy said her department had the added complication that its review copies were misplaced shortly after they arrived in April.
The two groups were notified this week that the deadline will be extended to June 15 for Utah only.
Kenneth Buchi, of the Utah Medical Association's House of Delegates, said the extra time is an improvement, but the association had asked for an extension to Sept. 30. The UMA's trustees had wanted to take the issue to the group's policy-making House of Delegates, which meets in September.
And since the government took six months to issue the final impact statement after closing the comment period on a draft statement last October, the physicians group believes it only fair for the public to have six months to react to the final report, he said.
Buchi said part of the Army's position was that since there wasn't much difference between the draft and the final report, people wouldn't need much time to review it.
But that very lack of difference is one of the association's concerns, he said. The association is not sure whether its comments on the draft were seriously considered.
He said the association will seek a meeting with Maj. Gen. Philip Russell, commander of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command, to discuss the group's concerns.
Russell was cooperative when the medical association had concerns on a separate but related environmental study for a new aerosol germ-test lab at Dugway, Buchi said. "We're not sure why we don't see that same sense of cooperation on the overall program."
Buchi is one of nine people named recently by the governor to serve on a Dugway Citizens Advisory Committee, which will monitor the process that Dugway follows to complete its plans for the new germ lab.
Other members are Bobby F. Craft, Industrial Health Inc.; Sam Ghosh, civil-environmental engineer, University of Utah; Daniel B. Hill and Ronald Peterson, citizens from Tooele County; Michael Keller, attorney; Jeffrey S. Lee, industrial hygienist, U. of U.; Nancy Melling, League of Women Voters; and Larry H. Piette, molecular biologist, Utah State University.