PORTLAND - A judge this morning denied a request for an injunction by GASP regarding the decision Friday by the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission to give the Army permission to begin burning weapons at the Umatilla Chemical Depot.
The Hermiston-based group opposed to incineration of the chemical weapons plans to file the same motion with the Court of Appeals, which more than likely will not rule on the issue until Friday, when it hears oral arguments regarding a lawsuit GASP filed several years ago.
Rick Kelley, spokesperson for Washington Demilitarization, the company that will operate the incinerator complex at the depot, said before the hearing that the schedule at the Umatilla Chemical Depot still called for moving a pallet of munitions to the incinerator Wednesday.
"There is no exception to that," he said.
The plan is to burn one rocket body Thursday and another on Friday. The actual contents of the rockets won't be burned but rather will be drained into a container for destruction later. That way the project can stay on schedule without actually burning chemical agents this week.
Multnomah County Circuit Court judge John Wittmayer denied GASP's request this morning because he said it was not clear that GASP would win it's so-called "GASP I" appeal.
GASP I alleges that the Army misled the public on the original design of the incinerator, and that it has lied about the amount of harmful emissions that will be emitted once it fires up. GASP has filed two other lawsuits, one still out on appeal.
GASP I has been pending in the Court of Appeals for five years. Oral arguments on the case will be heard Friday, but it could be months before the judge makes a decision. The injunction request Wittmayer ruled on this morning asked the court to halt rocket processing until a decision was reached on GASP I.
Marcus learned late Friday that he would preside at the injunction hearing this morning. He was presented with 300-plus pages of background information but said it was impossible for him to rule on the likelihood of GASP winning it's initial appeal.
To win an injunction, GASP had to show the likelihood that it would win its case in the Court of Appeals, where it must show there would be imminent harm from rocket processing and its emissions.
"We think the trial judge was mistaken," Stewart Sugarman, an attorney for GASP, said after this morning's ruling. "We'll be filing the same motion in the Court of Appeals immediately."
GASP hoped to delay the Army's plans in order to give it time to convince a judge that an alternative method for destroying the weapons should be implemented.