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William Walsh Co-Authors National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Report on Demilitarization of Munitions

December 7, 2018

William Walsh, Senior Counsel in Clark Hill's Energy, Environment & Natural Resources Practice Group, is a member of the select committee that developed the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report titled “Alternatives for the Demilitarization of Conventional Munitions” released on December 6, 2018. 

Conventional munitions include small arms ammunition, larger caliber shells, bombs, rocket and missile motors, and other propellant and explosive compounds. When these items become obsolete or otherwise unusable, or are declared excess, the Army’s Product Director for Demilitarization (PD Demil) is tasked with storing these munitions at stockpile facilities, attempting to find a civilian or foreign military use for the munitions, or rendering them harmless. PD Demil’s mission includes munitions from all services, not just the Army. PD Demil uses a variety of methods for rendering them harmless including contained disposal; reclamation, recycling, and reuse; and open burning or open detonation. Increasingly, open burning or open detonation is becoming controversial due to the direct release of process effluents to the environment.

This report was mandated by Congress in the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act. It assesses alternative technologies can replace open burning and open detonation and the factors that impact whether use of these alternatives are appropriate in various situations. Criteria used by the committee include, among others, cost, throughput capacity, personnel safety, and environmental impacts. As with any technology application, there are tradeoffs and challenges that must be addressed before any alternative technologies can be implemented in specific applications.  

Additional information on the report may be found here. 

Walsh principally focuses his practice in the areas of government policy advocacy, regulatory compliance and counseling and environmental litigation.  He advises companies and industry trade associations on compliance with wide range of environmental laws (including the Toxic Substance Control Act, the Federal Insecticide Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), the Clean Water Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the California Safe Drinking Water and Enforcement Act (commonly referred to as Proposition 65), and the California Safer Consumer Product (SCP) regulations, among other statutes and regulations).  He assists clients in identifying and mitigating business risks associated with increasingly complex product safety and chemical ingredient regulations developed pursuant to these environmental statutes and various product safety statutes (e.g., the Consumer Product Safety Act, the National Highway Safety Act). He also defends regulatory enforcement actions and personal injury/property damage liability litigation. He advocates changes to environmental regulations and policies and provides counsel on a broad range of environmental issues involving innovative scientific, regulatory, legal and policy questions. Walsh is listed in Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business.

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