Hazardous Waste Disposal Complicates U.S. Deployments

Article excerpt

With international deployments of U.S. forces at an all-time high, the troops involved in those operations are spending more time wrestling with the requirements of the Basel Convention, according to Karen Moran, an environmental-protection specialist for the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), at Fort Belvoir, Va.

This United Nations-sanctioned treaty, signed by 132 nations and other parties in 1989, places limits on the generation, treatment and international shipment of hazardous waste, she explained at an NDIA-sponsored environmental conference in Austin, Texas. The United States is one of the few nations of the world-along with the likes of Afghanistan, Iraq and Haiti-that have chosen not to sign the document.

As a result, Basel "has significantly complicated" overseas training and operations for U.S. troops, "because of the need, in most cases, to transport waste out of the operations areas for environmentally sound disposal," said Jim Carr, an attorney for DLA's Defense Reutilization Marketing Service International.

Because the United States has not signed the treaty, "some of our closest allies cannot receive U.S.generated waste," he said. For example, he noted, shipments of hazardous waste from U.S. bases at Incirlik, Turkey, have been stalled, because Spain refuses to allow them to transit the Straits of Gibraltar. …

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