DuPont Drops Out of Nerve Agent Byproduct Plan

DuPont said it will not participate in the Army's plan to dispose of wastewater from the destruction of the deadly nerve agent VX.

The company had been working with the Army since 2003 on a plan to ship wastewater from neutralized VX nerve agent from a chemical weapons depot in Indiana to Deepwater, N.J., to be treated at DuPont's Chamber Works facility and then dumped in the Delaware River.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had signed off on the idea, but environmentalists had fought it, and regulatory approval by New Jersey officials was uncertain, said Nick Fanandakis, DuPont vice president and general manager for chemical solutions.

"It was pretty evident that the process I was about to undertake would have been a very lengthy one and a difficult one as well," Fanandakis said.

Company officials said the economic return for DuPont would have been negligible. DuPont spokesman Anthony Farina said DuPont's relationship with New Jersey officials outweighed any benefit DuPont might have gained from disposing of the VX wastewater.

Gov. Jon Corzine on Friday thanked DuPont, saying "common sense has prevailed."

"This is a decisive victory for the people of New Jersey," Corzine said in a statement. "VX nerve agent is one of the world's most deadly chemical compounds and dumping it in a river never made any sense."

Terry Arthur, spokeswoman for the Newport Chemical Depot in Indiana, referred calls to the Army Chemical Materials Agency at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. There, spokesman Mickey Morales issued a statement expressing disappointment in DuPont's decision.

Still, Morales said, the agency appreciated the company's help "in this effort to rid our nation of the threat associated with continued storage of these obsolete chemicals weapons."