A drilling device is attached to an inert munition. Operators with the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center will drill up to six munitions to extract munitions-grade samples of the Blue Grass nerve agent stockpile.
A drilling device rests on top of an inert munition inside a glovebox. Operators with the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center will use a similar glovebox during sampling operations for safety, and all work will be performed within an environmental enclosure at the Blue Grass Army Depot.
U.S. Army technicians are training and preparing to collect nerve agent samples from the Blue Grass Army Depot chemical weapons stockpile in May to help prepare the Blue Grass plant for future operations.
“The U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center will conduct this GB sampling operation, which is necessary to validate various systems as well as helping to calibrate the plant’s laboratory equipment,” said Jeff Brubaker, site project manager, BGCAPP.
As the Blue Grass team continues to test equipment and processes during the systemization phase, munitions-grade GB agent is needed to properly test Laboratory equipment and thereby reduce the plant’s analytical startup risk, Brubaker further explained.
During the sampling operation, ECBC operators will extract one liter of nerve agent from 8-inch projectiles with each type of stabilizer. The operators will drill the munition, extract the sample and plug the 8-inch projectile – all within a sealed glovebox and an environmental enclosure.
“We’ll build the enclosure, bring power distribution, prepare the equipment and train the various team members – from environmental monitoring to safety to transportation, and more,” said Laura Graham, chemical engineer, ECBC.
After the extraction is complete, samples will be transported to an ECBC facility at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, for further laboratory preparation.
ECBC operators have conducted similar operations before, and have experience with the Blue Grass stockpile. Operation Swift Solution was a partnership between ACWA and ECBC where three deteriorating steel containers storing a mixture of nerve agent and its decontamination breakdown products were safely destroyed in 2009.
An integrated team with representatives from the Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives, Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass, Blue Grass Chemical Activity, Blue Grass Army Depot, U.S. Army Chemical Materials Activity and ECBC will participate in aspects of the operation including environmental permitting, emergency preparedness and security.