A study evaluating the potential off-site shipment of hazardous wastes from a Colorado chemical weapons demilitarization plant concluded the risk is negligible.
“Off-site shipment is not the desirable path, but is a contingency,” said Greg Mohrman, site project manager, Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant (PCAPP).
In December 2016, a Transportation Risk Assessment (TRA) was performed to evaluate risks for the off-site shipment of hydrolysate from PCAPP to a commercial hazardous waste Treatment, Storage and Disposal Facility.
The study, conducted for the U.S. Army by the company Leidos, used tanker trucks to assess accident frequency and event consequences with a shipping distance of 2,000 miles. Their findings showed no additional mitigation measures are needed at PCAPP.
Contingency planning was initiated for the potential, though unlikely, possibility the plant’s Biotreatment Area experiences a failure, Mohrman said.
“The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine said biotreatment is susceptible to upsets,” said Dr. David R. Bradley, Leidos.
Biotreatment is the plant’s process of breaking down hydrolysate, the product of the chemical agent neutralization process, into water, salts and organics.
National Academies experts noted a number of potential technical issues with the successful operation of the biotreatment process and suggested off-site shipment of hydrolysate be considered as a fallback option, Bradley said.
“We are still committed to making biotreatment work, but our mission first and foremost is to destroy chemical agent,” Mohrman said.