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Vietnam War Napalm To Destroyed

January 5, 1999

FALLBROOK, Calif. (AP) _ More than 3 million gallons of napalm that’s been stored at a San Diego naval station since the Vietnam War is going to be shipped to Louisiana to be destroyed.

The plan announced Monday may solve a longstanding problem for the Navy. Over the years, it has dealt with everything from an infestation of rare Stephens’ kangaroo rats, an endangered species, near where the napalm is stored to leaking canisters to local authorities’ threats to sue if any of the incendiary jelly came to their hometowns.

The 3.2 million gallons of napalm has been stored in open fields at the Fallbrook Naval Weapons Facility in 35,000 aluminum canisters since 1973.

Navy officials declined to say how much Rhodia Inc., a chemical plant in Baton Rouge, La., will be paid to burn the napalm. However, getting rid of the stuff will cost about $39 million total, including other contracts to thin the napalm at a plant in Houston, put it into railroad cars and burn the wooden crates that held the canisters.

Rhodia first talked to community leaders before signing the contract last week, and had launched a public relations campaign that was part of the deal with the Navy.

``We are permitted to burn this, we have burned all the components of this, our regulatory record and environmental record is good,″ plant manager Jerry Kring said.

But not all the key people were notified of the contract and don’t like it, according to a spokeswoman for one of the state’s leading environmental groups.

``The bottom line is that 23 million pounds of napalm should not be sent 2,000 miles to be burned in anybody else’s community,″ said Mary Lee Orr of the Louisiana Environmental Action Network.

Officials said the process of taking the napalm out of the canisters and putting it in railroad cars for shipping should begin within a month. The Navy hopes to process 100 canisters a day for the next two years.

The Navy said napalm _ a mixture of polystyrene, gasoline and benzene _ is far less volatile than common gasoline and will not explode without a fuse.

But the local protests last year derailed a plan to have the napalm destroyed at a plant in East Chicago, Ind. After the protests, Pollution Control Industries refused to accept a shipment in April and a Navy train carrying napalm was forced to turn around.

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