The Blue Grass site project manager and community advisory group members discussed at a recent quarterly public meeting the need to have a back-up plan in place in case the plant’s secondary processing system does not work as planned.
“The National Research Council, now the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, recommended establishing a Plan B to avoid pausing the destruction of chemical weapons in case the plant’s supercritical water oxidation system, or SCWO, is unable to process or keep up with processing hydrolysate generated as a product of the destruction process,” said Jeff Brubaker, site project manager, Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant.
The system will use high temperature and pressure to break down hydrolysate, creating water, carbon dioxide and salt products.
“We are confident this process will work, but we recognize the need to have a Plan B,” said Craig Williams, co-chair, Chemical Destruction Community Advisory Board (CDCAB). “To that end, we are working with plant management to develop specific criteria that must be met before we would recommend the shipment of hydrolysate to a properly permitted treatment, storage and destruction facility.”
The Kentucky Chemical Demilitarization Citizens’ Advisory Commission (CAC) and CDCAB recently formed the Process Working Group, which meets monthly to receive project input and provide recommendations to plant management on a timely basis as the date for the start of operations draws closer. Developing the Plan B criteria is one of the major topics being discussed by the group.
“We’re working closely together to develop these criteria,” Brubaker said. “We all strongly prefer to keep hydrolysate processing on site, but in the event things don’t work as they should, the main goal is to continue the safe processing of the chemical munitions. In the Plan B circumstance, with the criteria met, the off-site shipment of hydrolysate will help us achieve that goal.”
The group plans to have the criteria finalized by the Sept. 12 CAC/CDCAB meeting.