A potential change will have the Blue Grass plant processing projectiles containing nerve agent, known as GB or sarin, ahead of the planned order that placed M55 rockets first.
“We reevaluated the GB processing order to focus on worker safety,” said Jeff Brubaker, site project manager, Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant. “We had originally planned to start with the GB rockets but prefer a crawl-walk-run approach to starting main plant processing operations.”
Brubaker explained the new approach during a public meeting in Richmond, Kentucky Sept. 12.
Putting the projectiles, which do not contain energetics, ahead of the rockets, which do, will allow operators to gain confidence with agent-processing equipment ahead of using the energetics-processing equipment, Brubaker said. The systems used for energetics disposal will not be required until the rocket campaign begins.
“Our focus is on worker, community and environmental safety,” said Craig Williams, co-chair, Chemical Destruction Community Advisory Board. “This change makes sense to ramp up worker knowledge and experience before processing the munitions with the most risk.”
Modifications to plant permits will be necessary before making the change, Brubaker said, and the plant is currently working through that process with the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection.