When pressurized chemical weapons at the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant (PCAPP) caused a disruption to the processing of the munitions, staff responded by creating a solution.
“The workforce knew some of the lots of projectiles would be over-pressurized and proposed the idea of putting a splash guard around the bottom of the Cavity Access Machines (CAM) to capture spills,” said Kim Jackson, plant manager, PCAPP.
Jackson said water or additives can cause pressure in a munition, causing the mustard agent to splatter on the machine and floor, which is covered with a protective coating to contain such spills.
“It’s the same as if we had taken a bottle of champagne and opened a cork in the room,” she said.
The idea was originally used at the former Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Facility (UMCDF) in Oregon, but was adapted for use at PCAPP.
“Our splash guard has a different design because we have a different munition type, but it’s still the same concept,” said Jackson, who previously worked at UMCDF.
PCAPP staff came up with a prototype and tested it at the PCAPP Training Facility, where it performed well. It was then installed and tested on CAMs in the main plant.
“We tested on our pressurized lots and it worked perfectly,” she said.
Jackson said every time a pressurized munition would “champagne,” processing would stop and staff spent hours cleaning up the contamination while wearing fully- encapsulated suits. The splash guards have eliminated the disruption.