The Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant (PCAPP) will use both new and borrowed technologies to drain and washout obsolete munitions stored at the U.S. Army Chemical Depot since the 1950s.
PCAPP’s Munitions Washout System (MWS) will use Cavity Access Machines (CAM) to collapse the burster well and drain the mustard agent from projectiles. Drained agent and rinse water will be collected and piped into the neutralization systemization for processing, said Art Shinn, training specialist, PCAPP.
“The purpose of the CAMs is to drain and wash agent from munitions in order to take the agent to the Collection and Neutralization System for neutralization,” said Shinn.
A robotic arm will pick up energetic-free munitions from a conveyor and place them into the CAM. This technology was borrowed from the automotive industry and modified for use at PCAPP, Shinn said.
“The robot is highly accurate, up to .012 of an inch,” said Shinn. “It has good repeatability.”
A new technology, CAMs were developed by Parsons Corporation for specific use at PCAPP. The CAM will access the area of projectiles that hold mustard agent using a hydraulic ram to collapse the burster well. The collapsed burster will create an opening for the agent to drain from the munition and then high pressure hot water is sprayed into each munition to clean out any residual agent, Shinn said.
“The MWS will open the agent cavity, drain and wash the agent out of the munition and deliver it to the Munition Treatment Unit for thermal decontamination,” said Kent Ladd, training specialist, PCAPP.
Because there are two types of projectiles at PCAPP, as well as mortar rounds, different sized CAMs will be used for each type of munition to be processed. The process for the 4.2-inch mortar rounds will be slightly different. Instead of collapsing the burster well, the base will be cut from the munition body, Shinn said.
“The MWS is in a ventilation and engineering controlled environment for the protection of the workforce, facility and public,” Ladd said.