RICHMOND, Ky. – The Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant (BGCAPP) achieved a major milestone after both contractor and government teams declared construction of the main facility complete Oct. 28, 2015.
“Completing construction on this facility is a major step toward the elimination of chemical weapons in Kentucky,” said Jeff Brubaker, BGCAPP site project manager. “Our construction team has done a tremendous job to build a facility that meets all of the standards necessary to safely and efficiently neutralize nerve agents GB (Sarin) and VX.”
This declaration comes nearly a decade from when initial groundwork began in 2006.
“Even more impressive than the facility itself is the success of our safety culture here at Blue Grass,” said Doug Omichinski, Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass (BPBG) project manager. “We have been able to instill and maintain a safety mentality throughout the entire construction process.”
Over the last year, BPBG employees have completed 5,037,710 hours and 518 days without a lost time accident and a recordable injury rate 94 percent lower than construction industry average.
With construction complete, the Blue Grass project is fully transitioning to the systemization phase, where equipment and processes are put through a series of tests to ensure their functionality leading into main plant operations.
“Although we are that much closer to operations, we must commit to testing our equipment first,” said Omichinski. “This process will take time, but it is a vital part to prepare for agent operations.”
While the main plant continues systemization, construction of the Explosive Destruction Technology facility, responsible for processing weapons containing mustard agent, will carry on until early 2017. After significant agent solidification was discovered in a majority of mustard projectiles, project officials selected an alternative destruction method using a Static Detonation Chamber to process these munitions.
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. Systemization is more than 36 percent complete and testing continues on a variety of facilities that will support chemical demilitarization operations. Chemical weapons destruction operations are scheduled to finish in 2023.