Blue Grass Team Requests Permit Changes for Treaty Sampling

The Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant (BGCAPP) team requested a permit modification from Kentucky regulators Nov. 2 to sample and verify mustard agent as part of an international pledge to destroy chemical weapons.

“Because our mustard-agent munitions destruction process changed, our sampling process also needed to change,” said Eddie Whitworth, deputy site project manager, BGCAPP. “We worked with Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) personnel to find the best way to appropriately sample the agent in the munitions to satisfy treaty requirements.”

As part of the Chemical Weapons Convention, the inspection team must verify the specific type and quantity of chemical weapons being destroyed at BGCAPP and observe the process. To verify, liquid samples will be removed from selected munitions and analyzed in an on-site laboratory by Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) personnel, said Whitworth.

“The main plant processes allow for samples to be taken when the agent cavities are accessed, but the Explosive Destruction Technology (EDT) selected for the Blue Grass mustard munitions will process the munitions whole,” said Allison Respess, assistant project manager, Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass. “Working with the OPCW and experienced ECBC staff, as well as Blue Grass Chemical Activity and Program Executive Office, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives personnel, we have established a workable mustard-agent sampling plan.”

The OPCW-approved path forward is to conduct a one-time sampling operation four to six weeks prior to the end of Blue Grass EDT operations. A treaty inspection team will have the opportunity to randomly select mustard-agent munitions for sampling each month of operations, said Whitworth. They will be provided real-time remote viewing of the full sampling operation and will observe laboratory analysis of the samples.

To view the permit modification request submitted to the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection and learn about the related public comment period ending Jan. 4, 2016, view the Environmental Activities at BGCAPP page.

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