Sensitive napalm shipment may head back to California
April 16, 1998
Containers filled with napalm
Web posted at: 3:28 p.m. EDT (1928 GMT)
KANSAS CITY, Kansas (CNN) -- A train carrying napalm that
triggered protests when it was shipped halfway across the
country is apparently headed back to California while the
Pentagon looks for another company to dispose of it.
The napalm, the first of several planned shipments, was
headed for East Chicago, Indiana, when it departed Saturday
from a naval weapons station in Fallbrook, California, near
The waste-management firm Pollution Control Industries had
subcontracted to recycle the material into fuel for cement
kilns. But the company abruptly backed out of its $2.5
million deal on Monday, abandoning the 12,000-gallon shipment
of jellied gasoline en route.
The napalm was being held at a Kansas City, Kansas, railroad
yard while the Pentagon finalized an agreement with the state
of California to temporarily store it at the China Lake Naval
Weapons Testing Station. The agreement will let the Pentagon
keep the napalm there for up to 90 days.
The China Lake facility is about 120 miles northwest of Los
A Navy source told CNN that negotiations also were under way
with other companies interested in taking over the recycling
project. PCI pulled out of the agreement because, according
to a PCI spokeswoman, the project would damage relations with
customers and the community. The primary contractor on the
recycling job is Battelle Memorial Institute.
The napalm is part of 22 million pounds of a Navy and Air
Force stockpile that has been stored in California for about
25 years. California officials sought its removal after some
containers began leaking in the field where they were stored.
"We have a number of firms who were in the original bidding
to do this, along with PCI, and we will select one or more
qualified firms to do the recycling of the material," Robert
Pirie, assistant secretary of the Navy for installations and
environment, told CNN Early Edition.
While there had been widespread public concern that the
napalm was too volatile to ship, Pirie said, "It is a good
deal less dangerous than shipping ordinary gasoline."
Comparing the substance to Sterno, a jellied fuel often used
in camping stoves, he said, "It's one of the safest projects
of this kind that I know about," particularly since the fuse
and phosphorous initiator were not in the mixture. ( 1.1MBK/26 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)
Napalm was used in the Vietnam War to burn foliage. Lt.
Cmdr. Jon Smith, a Navy spokesman, said the military still
wants to recycle all the stored napalm. PCI's contract was
part of a larger $24 million recycling program.
CNN Pentagon Producer Chris Plante contributed to this