Texas health authorities have granted the Army permission to begin destruction of its Pershing missiles, but a similar program in Colorado is on hold until the results of a test burn are analyzed, officials said.
About 850 medium-range Pershing 2 missiles now deployed in Europe will be destroyed during the next three years under the terms of the recently signed INF Treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union.The Army has selected the Pueblo Army Depot, Colo., and the Longhorn Ammunition Plant near Marshall, Texas, as two of the three sites for destroying the missiles.
A third site is necessary in order to fulfill the Army's obligations under the treaty's timetable, said Dave Harris of the Army Missile Command in Huntsville, Ala.
The Army also had been looking at two possible burn sites in Utah. But Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, said the Army has decided it will not use the Tooele Army Depot or any other Utah site for the Pershing destruction program.
The Colorado Health Department will not issue a permit to the Army to burn the missiles at Pueblo until it receives the results of a May 31 test burn and holds a public hearing July 21 in Pueblo.
Health officials required the test to determine whether the burnings would create air pollution problems and health hazards for residents.
"We felt this type of analysis was needed to understand the emissions and their cumulative impact," said Sheila Burns, an air pollution control specialist with the Colorado Health Department. "And the public has been quite outspoken on the issue as well."
Officials of the Texas Air Control Board said no such test was required in their state.
The destruction site at Longhorn in eastern Texas is a Morton-Thiokol plant that built the Pershing and other missiles.