Publication Date

March 1995


To reduce the risk of environmental contamination and honor an international treaty, chemical weapons stored at eight locales around the US are slated for destruction. Incineration is the main choice of a National Research Council committee directed by Congress to weigh the hazards of alternative destruction technologies, but many citizens' groups remain unconvinced. The US Army, which must dispose of the dangerous chemicals, faces decisions about the choice of destruction technologies, as well as more specific questions concerning protection of environment, safety and public health once the technology choices are made. Based on more than 200 individual interviews and 40 focus groups held in communities near where the weapons are stored, this paper illustrates an "argumentation" scheme for representing the underlying reasons for varying positions in the conflict over technology choices. The "argumentation" scheme is effective in representing qualitative interview data concerning the complex and dynamic environmental perspectives of diverse regional and national constituencies.