German defense minister meets with opponents of Germersheim warehouse expansion

German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen speaks to the press at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Garmisch, Germany, June 28, 2017. Von der Leyen held talks Monday with a local group opposed to the U.S. military?s plans for a $1 million expansion of a warehouse in the German town of Germersheim, where some residents have expressed concerns about the safety of the project.


By JOHN VANDIVER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 15, 2017

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen spoke with a local group opposed to the U.S. military’s plans for a $1 million expansion of a warehouse in the German town of Germersheim, where some residents are worried about the project’s safety.

Von der Leyen’s visit on Monday with project opponents, reported by local media in Rhineland-Pfalz, came during a broader tour of German military facilities in the region.

The German Defense Ministry declined to go into detail about the nature of the discussions with Germersheim project opponents, but it did say the U.S. military must be fully transparent about its plans before approvals are granted.

“The federal ministry of defense offers to continue to remain in dialogue with the U.S. side,” a defense ministry spokeswoman said.

The Defense Logistics Agency is seeking approval from local authorities to renovate its depot in southwestern Germany for stockpiling oil and other petroleum products. The move is part of an effort to ensure sufficient reserves are in place to meet U.S. commitments to NATO, according to the military.

Residents have spoken out against the initiative at town hall meetings, some speculating that dangerous weaponry could be stored at the site.

The military says there are no such plans.

Still, Germersheim’s mayor has expressed concern that the expansion plan, which could more than double the amount of stored material, might pose an environmental risk.

DLA says that besides petroleum products, the items to be stored include hydraulic fluid, antifreeze, brake fluid and fog oil. The goods are all prepackaged by the manufacturer, which reduces the risk of accidental spills of hazardous material, according to DLA.

Local residents had until Aug. 7 to submit objections to the project, which is now under consideration by German county commissioners. If the project is turned down at the municipal level, the Defense Ministry, which von der Leyen heads, will make a final decision on the project.

Twitter: @john_vandiver

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