Chemical Weapons Facility’s Control Room Becomes Fully Operational

Mark York
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RICHMOND, Ky. — The Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant (BGCAPP) achieved another milestone this week as the facility’s control room began operating 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

The command and control area is considered the brains of this complex plant, and 24/7 operations signals an important step as BGCAPP transitions this year from construction to systemization. Systemization includes the commissioning and start-up of the physical plant.

“The control room is essential to the process of starting up plant operations, including the operation of utility systems such as the chillers and boilers,” said Doug Omichinski, Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass project manager. “The operating systems rely upon ideal climate-controlled conditions to create the safest, most effective and efficient destruction of the chemical agent.”

Control room operators are already sending signals to plant systems, turning on pumps and motors as part of systemization.

“This is a notable milestone for the Blue Grass plant,” said Jeff Brubaker, BGCAPP site project manager. “Starting 24/7 operations of the control room means we’re one step closer to safely destroying Kentucky’s chemical weapons stockpile.”

During operations, to minimize risk to workers at BGCAPP, the processing and destruction of the chemical agent will be performed remotely using automated systems and robots.

“Closed-circuit television cameras located throughout the facility will allow the control room operators to monitor and control system operations,” said Ron Hawley, BGCAPP plant manager. “Our operators will be able to monitor and control each automated processing system in the plant from their work stations in the control room.”

The control room will also serve as the emergency operations center at BGCAPP in response to any condition, such as severe weather, that might impact the facility.

BGCAPP is being built to safely and efficiently destroy a stockpile of 523 tons of blister and nerve agents in projectiles and rockets currently in storage at the Blue Grass Army Depot.

Design of BGCAPP began in 2003 with construction starting in 2006. Substantial construction completion of the plant is expected by the end of this month. Systemization is more than 34 percent complete and work continues on a variety of facilities that will support chemical demilitarization operations. Chemical weapons destruction operations are scheduled to finish in 2023.

For more BGCAPP photos, please visit PEO ACWA’s Flickr Photostream.

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