Chemical Weapons

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The Army has turned down a request to use chemical neutralization as a backup to burning chemical weapons in an Anniston incinerator. The decision disappointed local officials who sought an alternative for destroying nerve agents.

Calhoun County Commissioner Robert Downing, a frequent critic of the incineration plan, said the decision represented a "very stubborn, heels-dug-in mentality" by the military.

The Army contends the incinerator located at the Anniston Army Depot is safe and no backup is needed.

The Pentagon notified Congress in June that it would be ready as early as this month to begin burning more than 2,200 tons of nerve and blister agents stored at the depot in dirt-covered, concrete bunkers.

Mike Abrams, a spokesman for the facility, said officials hope to begin destroying chemical weapons by the end of July.