Because of this explosion, Congress created the Department of Defense Explosives Safety Board (DDESB), a board that exists to “provide oversight of the development, manufacture, testing, maintenance, demilitarization, handling, transportation and storage of explosives” within the military. From that point forward, any kind of explosive operations would require ultimate approval through the DDESB.
Moving forward to modern times, the DDESB and its United States Army counterpart, the U.S. Army Technical Center for Explosives Safety (USATCES), have been strongly involved with the layout, design and construction of the Blue Grass plant and the Explosive Destruction Technology (EDT) facility.
“As both of our projects will be handling and processing munitions containing explosives, we work closely with these organizations to ensure potential explosive hazard risk is reduced or eliminated,” said Sunday Street, safety engineer. “We can’t begin operations without their final approval.”
This approval depends on the review of documents called Site Plan Safety Submissions, extensive works that detail nearly everything about the main plant and the EDT project. This includes explanations of plant processes, function and operation of equipment, and layout and function of site structures. Site inspections are also an important part of the process.
“Even the windows were removed from the design of the Personnel Support Building as an extra precautionary measure, as shattering glass can cause injury,” said Del Powell, safety and occupational health specialist. “We worked with the Blue Grass Army Depot to ensure that all blast arcs (the area that could be impacted by a highly unlikely explosion) from the conventional munitions operations were removed from our site. It’s all about the safety of our workers, which is our highest priority.”
This relationship with the DDESB and USATCES is yet another example of the oversight of the Blue Grass mission to safely destroy the Blue Grass chemical munitions stockpile. These oversight organizations are important to project leadership to further enhance the safety of the project’s workers, the community and the environment.