“Safety is always the number one priority when handling chemical agent,” said Tom Rosso, operations business manager at the Army’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC), located at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. “The ability to adjust to changes in the working environment, as well as the ability to exercise sound judgment and emotional stability where hazards are present, is critical for employment.”
As of May 7, 2015, ECBC’s Chemical Biological Application and Risk Reduction team, known as CBARR, has operated the system that has safely destroyed 10 Department of Transportation bottles and 81 mustard-filled 105mm projectiles using the PCAPP EDS. The system is currently processing items which have been tested or leaked in the past and are now overpacked, a condition which may pose a problem for destruction using the main plant’s automated processing systems.
The fact is this team has done this before—and safely. Supporting the development, testing, operation and sustainment of EDS technology since 1999, ECBC’s operators conducted their first mission in 2001 at the former Rocky Mountain Arsenal in Colorado, safely destroying recovered GB (nerve agent) bomblets which were unsafe to transport. Since then, nearly 1,800 chemical munitions have been destroyed at numerous project sites across the country using the EDS, including Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Utah and Washington, D.C.
“Each of our employees is certified by the Army’s Personnel Reliability Program (PRP), which uses strict requirements to ensure that individuals who perform duties involving chemical agent meet and maintain the highest standards of reliability,” Rosso explained.
Medical tests and extensive background investigations are conducted at the time of hiring and continue regularly throughout employment. Employees who are PRP certified must demonstrate high levels of personal responsibility, including physical competence, mental alertness and technical proficiency.
The multi-agency Army team conducting PCAPP EDS operations consists of engineers, technicians, chemists, chemical operators and safety and environmental specialists. Edgewood, Maryland, and Pine Bluff, Arkansas, are the regular duty locations for ECBC’s 22–member staff now assigned to the PCAPP EDS, who will work at the Pueblo Chemical Depot on a temporary duty basis, rotating every three to four weeks. Once the first phase of operations to destroy the 560 “problematic” items is complete, operators will return to the depot intermittently to safely handle any future munitions rejected by the main plant’s automated processing system in the PCAPP EDS.
To learn more about the CBARR team’s capabilities, visit http://www.ecbc.army.mil/cbarr.