Working closely with a community group, Blue Grass plant managers are discussing contingency options for processing hydrolysate, the product of the chemical agent and energetics neutralization process.
“Back in 2015, the National Research Council, now the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, recommended the need to develop a Plan B should the supercritical water oxidation system not be capable of keeping up with the generation rate of hydrolysate,” said Jeff Brubaker, site project manager, Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant. “In their report, the council cited the risk of delaying stockpile destruction if an executable Plan B was not available.”
The project intends to process hydrolysate through the supercritical water oxidation system, or SCWO, Brubaker said. In the event SCWO does not work as planned, the plant needs to be able to quickly shift to an alternative, approved and permitted disposal method to continue to fulfil the plant’s main goal of destruction of the aging chemical munitions.
“We’re working closely with the Blue Grass plant to identify and come to consensus on criteria under which the shipment of hydrolysate might occur,” said Craig Williams, co-chair, Chemical Destruction Community Advisory Board. “We have recommended against off-site shipment of wastes, but understand the need for a viable Plan B.”
Community preference is that off-site shipments occur as a last resort and do not approach routine, Williams said. The Process Working Group will discuss criteria for the implementation of a Plan B at the group’s next meeting April 11.