Bishop: Oil Refinery Could Replace Deseret Chemical Depot

Bishop: Oil Refinery Could Replace Deseret Chemical Depot

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Rep. Rob Bishop says an oil refinery could replace the soon-to-be-closed Deseret Chemical Depot.

The Base Realignment and Closure commission could consider that option during deliberations this summer, he said Thursday.

"That, to me, would be an ideal situation," Bishop told the Deseret Morning News. "If you look at what the nation needs -- refinery capacity, and we are out of capacity."

The plan would fall in line with President Bush's proposal to build oil refineries on closed military bases.

However, not everyone is happy about the prospect of another Utah oil refinery.

"We already got, what, four in the state right along the Wasatch Front," said Jason Groenewold, executive director of the Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah. "We've got plenty capacity in the state already."

The Pentagon recommended closing Deseret Chemical Depot in early May. Whether it actually closes is a decision for the BRAC commission.

The depot has been destroying chemical weapons since 1996 as part of an international treaty. The treaty calls for all weapons there to be destroyed by 2012.

The Pentagon's closure recommendation wasn't a surprise, since the depot is expected to run out of weapons to destroy soon.

Bishop has wanted to extend the life of the depot and its chemical-weapons incinerator indefinitely.

Jim Hansen, a BRAC commissioner and former Utah congressman, said tearing down the incinerator seems like a waste of money.

Hansen said the facility could be used to destroy more mustard-based munitions. Hansen said the state missed out on $600 million by opposing mustard gas being shipped to the Deseret Chemical Depot from Pueblo, Colo.

"See, what a lot of folks don't understand is we have a lot of mustard gas already," Hansen said. "We just add to the amount, extend the life of the facility 3 1/2 years."

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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