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US Napalm Inventory

The US stockpile of napalm had been kept at the naval weapons station in Fallbrook, CA since 1973. For 25 years, the napalm washas been stored there at an ammunition depot. Concern was minimal until it started leaking out of the canisters into the soil and into the air, giving way to rising concern to the Navy.

The Palm Enterprises Treatment Facility is an abandoned hazardous waste treatment facility located at the Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach, Detachment Fallbrook military installation. The Palm Enterprises Treatment Facility was issued a hazardous waste facility permit on 31 March 1988, which authorized Palm Enterprises to demilitarize and recycle the Navy's napalm canisters stored at three (3) locations at the Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach, Detachment Fallbrook. The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) permit authorized the use of two (2) units at the Palm Enterprises Treatment Facility. The permitted units consisted of a 12,000-gallon underground storage tank (Chemical Solution Storage Tank) and a Gasoline Separator Tank. Several pieces of ancillary equipment were also used in the treatment process. During 1989, the Palm Enterprises Treatment Facility was deactivated permanently when Palm Enterprises operations were discontinued due to the failure of the facility equipment to induce adequate throughput of the napalm through its distillation process to separate the benzene and polystyrene from the gasoline.

In 1997, Pollution Control Industries, an East Chicago waste management firm, signed a $2.5 million subcontract under which 3.3 million gallons of napalm would be turned into fuel for cement kilns over two years as part of a $24 million recycling program. By April 1998, the company wanted out of the deal. Rep. Jerry Weller, an Illinois Republican, raised questions about the incinerator's past problems with destroying cancer-causing PCBs and suggested that the Navy find a California incinerator to handle the project. Rep. Rod Blagojevich (D-Ill.) opposed the recycling of napalm in East Chicago. Chicago residents protested and stopped a shipment of napalm from coming through their area.

By June 1998, the Navy's general contractor was close to letting subcontracts to one or more disposal operations in Deer Park, Texas, as well as San Leon, Texas, Port Arthur, Texas, and Andrews County, Texas. The concern of the the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission, and the Governor of Texas, was that the Navy had not done a very adequate job of notifying the public of their intention. This came on the heels of their earlier intent to dispose in East Chicago.

On 04 April 2001, at Fallbrook Naval Weapons Station, the US military sent the last two canisters of napalm to be burned as additives at coal and natural gas plants in Texas and Louisiana. After more than two decades, the last of the nation's inventory of napalm was erased from the history books. This project has made headline news across the country. The public did not always support the project because napalm's Vietnam War legacy. Eike Hohenadl, the then disposal plant's site manager, was quoted as saying that "Napalm is a memory of a war that most Americans would like to forget. I'm glad we are at an end."

Navy budget program decreases for FY2002 included $11.1 million related to termination of the NAPALM disposal program.

There was a report on Al-Jazeera on December, 14, 2001 that the US was using napalm at Tora Bora in Afghanistan. In response, General Tommy Franks said "We're not using -- we're not using the old napalm in Tora Bora."

The US Department of Defense denied the use of napalm during Operation Iraqi Freedom. A rebuttal letter from the US Depeartment of Defense had been in fact been sent to the Australian Sydney Morning Herald newspaper which had claimed that napalm had been used in Iraq.

An article by the San Diego Union Tribune revealed however, on August 5, 2003, that incendiary weapons were in fact used against Iraqi troops in the course of Operation Iraqi Freedom, as Marines were fighting their way to Baghdad. The denial by the US DOD was issued on the technical basis that the incendiaries used consisted primarily of kerosene-based jet fuel (which has a smaller concentration of benzene), rather than the traditional mixture of gasoline and benzene used for napalm, and that these therefore did not qualify as napalm. But the official Department of Defense definition of napalm is "1. Powdered aluminum soap or similar compound used to gelatinize oil or gasoline for use in napalm bombs or flame throwers. 2. The resultant gelatinized substance."

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