I appreciate Mr. Bauman's balanced coverage of operations at the Tooele Chemical Agent Disposal Facility (TOCDF) as reflected in his article of July 19, "Incinerator burns away; glitches refuse to go away." It is evident that Mr. Bauman researched the article and took care to ensure he presented both sides.
While the headline seems a little sensational, Mr. Bauman is correct that there have been "glitches." It is important for the public to know that the TOCDF personnel do not operate with "glitches," rather we correct them and only operate at peak safety. Our commitment to the citizens of Utah and the United States is to operate with maximum safety.There are a few points that need clarification. First, the Deseret Chemical Depot only had 13,616 tons of chemical agents in its original stockpile, not the 16,616 that was reported. Second, to balance Mr. William's statement about TOCDF emissions "posing a threat," Utah's Department of Environmental Quality reported in its TOCDF Health Risk Assessment that the facility operation is protective of human health and the environment.
Third, Steve Jones, a former TOCDF employee, is hardly a credible source. Not only has he not seen the plant in more than four years, but during his just over two months of employment (during early testing) he never witnessed operations. With this limited experience, Mr. Jones speaks as if he has current, real and personal knowledge.
The public may be interested to know that in almost two years of operations, we have had only three minor lost-time accidents and these were not related to the chemical agents: One worker tripped on a rock and reinjured a knee, a second worker slipped on ice in the parking lot and hurt a shoulder, and a custodian developed tendinitis. This is an excellent safety record by any industry standards.
Additionally, the records clearly show that the TOCDF has never burned any Lewisite, regardless of what Mr. Jones says.
Again, we appreciate the balanced coverage from Mr. Bauman. We look forward to the day in the future when Mr. Bauman can report, "All of the chemical agent munitions in Tooele have been safely destroyed."
Timothy W. Thomas
TOCDF site project manager