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HONOLULU, Hawaii (September 23, 1997 -PIDP/CPIS)---At the request of the South Pacific Forum and the U.S. Army, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has extended until October 31, the time during which it will accept comments on a proposal to extend the life of JACADS, the Johnston Atoll Chemical Agent Destruction System, for another ten years.

Initially, the comment period was to have ended last week.

The Army says it needs additional time to incinerate the remaining stockpile of nerve and mustard gas agent and chemical weapons still stored on the atoll, 700 miles southwest of Honolulu, after which it will restore the facility to a wildlife preserve.

Parties opposing the extension are concerned that it may lead to chemical weapons from the U.S. Mainland and elsewhere being sent to Johnston. The official communiqué from last week's South Pacific Forum meeting states that the "facility should be permanently closed when the current program of chemical weapons and agent destruction" is completed.

Under consideration is a ten-year extension of the original ten-year JCADS permit issued to the Army in 1985.

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