“Right now we’re testing operability and dialing-in flows, pressures and speeds,” said Ralph Thornton, start-up manager, Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass. “We’ll be verifying the system standard operating procedures through the end of the month.”
The system was previously tested with 155mm inert projectiles, which require different Cavity Access Machines, Thornton said. This equipment will punch into the agent cavity of the projectiles to allow access to the chemical agent inside. Technicians had to change out the machines and make some other changes to accommodate the larger 8-inch projectiles as part of this systemization process.
“We taught the system robot the data points for the 8-inch projectiles, as they are larger than the 155mm projectiles previously tested,” Thornton said. “We also had to reroute some piping and conduit that would have interfered with system clearance. That’s what the testing phase is all about – to find these things and take care of them before operations begin.”
The ‘washout’ part of the system is a misnomer, as the equipment has been redesigned to remove the fluid washout process, but the system name was retained due to the large effort required to make changes to plant documentation and operating system, Thornton said. Instead, the system will use gravity to drain the agent.
Next, the Munitions Washout System will undergo dry-run activities for system demonstration testing during the summer.