Systemization, hiring and training were three areas of progress in 2018 highlighted by Blue Grass plant managers during a quarterly public meeting Dec. 12.
“We successfully demonstrated some major equipment systems in the plant, to include the Energetics Neutralization System and Energetics Batch Hydrolyzers,” said Jeff Brubaker, site project manager, Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant. “We also successfully completed the system demonstration of the Rocket Handling System and completed the first test of the Munitions Washout System with dummy munitions.”
In the early months of 2018, efforts on the Static Detonation Chamber, or SDC, resumed after being put on hold due to budget challenges. During that time, hiring of Laboratory personnel to support SDC start-up also took place. By the spring, the SDC project shifted from pre-systemization to full systematization activities.
“We completed the Munitions Demilitarization Building air balancing. That’s a significant accomplishment, as that’s a major safety system for the plant workers,” said Ron Hink, project manager, Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass. “We also worked with the Process Working Group on introducing the prospect of processing nerve agent through the SDC for leakers.”
In the fall, SDC workers and government shift representatives moved to 24/7 schedules, said Hink. Inert M60 rockets were also introduced to the main plant for training purposes.
The Process Working Group, or PWG, collaborated closely with the project in 2018. Issues covered by the group included giving a recommendation on the sequence of operations for GB nerve agent munitions in the main plant. The original sequence was to process rockets with the nerve agent, followed by projectiles. Management has proposed those sequences be reversed.
“The basis for the PWG’s endorsement of that proposal was that the GB projectiles don’t contain any explosive material, whereas the GB rockets do,” said Craig Williams, co-chair, Chemical Destruction Community Advisory Board. “So based on worker safety concerns as well as training, that particular proposal was endorsed by the PWG.”