This question is often asked by environmentally concerned neighbors, land owners and other project stakeholders when they consider the neutralization processes that will be used by the Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant.
Plant water is provided from the Blue Grass Army Depot’s 135-acre Lake Vega, through the depot’s water treatment system. Refilled by groundwater through precipitation events, like rainfall, Lake Vega has long been the source of the depot’s water. The lake is closely monitored and tested to keep it healthy and ensure its viability.
Pumps transmit raw lake water to the depot’s Water Treatment Plant. The raw water is pretreated for taste and odor, and coagulant is added to enhance removal of suspended impurities by sedimentation. Next, the water is filtered through a multi-media filter, disinfected and sent to a clear well for distribution by pumping. It is then provided to the Blue Grass site through a modern piping system.
“We take running the water treatment plant and providing quality water for the workforce very seriously,” said Ramesh Melarkode, depot environmental manager. “The water plant is operated by fully licensed and experienced contractor personnel.”
“The water supply meets Kentucky Division of Water criteria and regulations for potable water, and every effort is made to minimize water loss in the system,” added Jim Buckles, water plant civil engineer.
Water plays a large part in Blue Grass plant processes, making up the bulk of the solutions that will be used in the agent and energetics neutralization equipment. It will also be used in decontamination, cooling and fire protection systems.
The Blue Grass plant currently uses about 30,000 gallons per day, but when the plant is in operations, that use will peak at around 240,000 gallons per day. This will include use from the evaporative coolers and the Utility Building boilers, which will supply heated and chilled water and steam to plant processes.
Approximately 70 percent of the water from destruction processing will be recycled back into plant processes, while the rest will be packaged as a brine solution and delivered to a permitted waste disposal facility.
“Just as water is critical to our everyday lives, it is just as critical to the successful operation of the Blue Grass plant,” said John McArthur, Blue Grass environmental manager. “While the operating plant will require thousands of gallons of water each day, we’ll be able to recycle most of the water back into the process, reducing our overall demand.”