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Plans for the Green River Missile Site

By PATSY STODDARD
Editor

Wells were drilled and water samples were taken from various points around the missile base. Green River City is anxiously awaiting the final environmental report from water and soil samples and a geophysical survey to help determine the future of the site.

A meeting was held in Green River on June 5 to discuss the future of the Green River Missile Site. Representatives from White Sands Missile Range, Utah National Guard, Emery and Grand counties, Senator Bob Bennett's staff and Green River City met and also flew over the site in a Black Hawk helicopter to assess the possibilities for the site.

Emery County Commissioner Drew Sitterud said the national guard was very interested in the site to be used as a satellite extension for Camp Williams. The site would be used for a training and artillery instruction center. White Sands owns portions of the old missile base and other land is BLM land patented to White Sands for the specific purpose of a missile test site. Any new owners/proprietors would need to establish a patent with the BLM for their own purposes. Also portions of the site are state lands. The portion of the site where the buildings still exist is within the Green River City limits. The BLM land is located in Grand County. The Grand County representative seemed favorable to the idea of the national guard using the site. The Colorado National Guard might also be interested in joining the Utah National Guard with a joint venture.

A preliminary environmental study commissioned by White Sands and being executed by Mevatec Corporation has been released with the final report due out in September. The results of this report will determine the direction to be taken at the site and a timetable established depending on any cleanup which may be needed.

It was mentioned that the national guard would be willing to take the site in its present condition, but White Sands would be liable and this scenario would not be likely.

Green River City has expressed much interest in obtaining the site for low income housing, ATV recreational site as well as other possible uses. The national guard expressed a willingness to work with the city on their interests as well.

Donna Sackett from Senator Bennett's office said they would process the paperwork to make it work. Neeta Bidwai from Congressman Jim Matheson's office stated that if the local community believes that it would be beneficial to Green River and the surrounding area, Congressman Matheson would be happy to work with Senator Bennett on moving forward.

Mayor Glen Dale Johnson was hopeful with the proceedings of the meeting and felt like it was a productive meeting. He described the meeting as taking big steps toward a future for the site. A meeting with White Sands is scheduled in the future where a timetable for action will be established and if any cleanup of the site is needed this will also be talked about.

Jose Gallegos, project manager from White Sands said they would be meeting with the regulators soon to discuss the environmental investigation. "Last October, a geophysical survey of the site was completed and the results of that verified what we knew. There is a Pershing Booster Burial Site with metal debris buried which needs to be addressed and a couple of other sites. We have determined that the environmental risk issues are very few and the 20 areas of concern has been reduced to four. In the Brown's Wash area there is a possibility of an environmental concern with three endangered fish species in the Green River. We are hopeful this doesn't concern our site but is possibly on the Department of Energy property. When we meet we will determine what methods of cleanup would be used which could possibly include the excavating of the buried debris and its removal. There are no human health issues at this time. The draft environmental proposal is ready and when it is finalized we will meet with Green River City again to discuss the real property issues," said Gallegos.

Gallegos said the environmental work and assessment is a separate procedure from the real property issues of what to do with the Green River Site when it is declared clean. That decision will be made by the real estate specialists of White Sands Missile Range.





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