A team of experts safely delivered samples of GB nerve agent to Maryland June 6, after a successful sampling operation at the Blue Grass Army Depot.
“The operation was conducted by experts from the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center after months of planning and weeks of training and rehearsals,” said Jeff Brubaker, site project manager, Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant. “Safety was the top priority and the team successfully completed the task.”
“I’m very proud of the execution of this operation,” said Col. Scott Gould, commander, Blue Grass Chemical Activity. “It truly demonstrated the teamwork of the participating organizations working hard to support this important effort.”
The operation’s goal was to provide samples of munitions-grade agent in preparation for agent destruction operations at the pilot plant, Brubaker said. In 2016, as lab personnel tested equipment and systems, they learned that agent hydrolysate produced in labs for analytical purposes was too pure, thus the need for munitions-grade agent that contains impurities and degradation byproducts.
The chemical agent was extracted from two 8-inch projectiles not containing explosives, placed in a transport bottle, packaged in a protective overpack device and tested for contamination. It was then delivered to the center’s Chemical Transfer Facility in Maryland.
“Since Kentucky holds the last remaining U.S. stockpile of nerve agent, it became clear that an extraction operation was necessary,” Brubaker said. “For more than a year, we have been working with our community members, Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection, Blue Grass Army Depot, Blue Grass Chemical Activity, Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program and a host of other partners to accomplish this operation.”
A portion of the nerve agent samples will be sent to Battelle’s Hazardous Materials Research Center in Ohio to produce munitions-grade agent hydrolysate.
“The munitions-grade agent hydrolysate will be used to support validation of the on-site Laboratory analytical methods,” said Ron Hink, project manager, Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass. “The validation better prepares us for chemical weapons destruction operations scheduled to begin in 2019.”
Organizations supporting this mission include the Blue Grass Chemical Activity, Blue Grass Army Depot, U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center and the 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives Command.