“We use helium to test the integrity of the single-round containers as it has smaller molecules than air or any of the chemical agents,” said Jeff Angel, ammunition surveillance inspector, Blue Grass Chemical Activity. “We want to be very sure no chemical agent vapor will escape the container if it is used to store a leaking munition.”
A technician places a pressurized helium dispenser with a timer inside a container and seals it, Angel said. The container is then placed under a plastic bag and a detector is used after the timer releases the helium. If any helium is detected, the container fails and will be re-evaluated.
“It’s a very accurate test,” Angel said. “We check each container every 90 days to keep them in service-ready status, based on an analysis of our leaker history. We need to be ready for a leaker at any time, even though we have very few of them.”
Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant (BGCAPP) technicians are testing and training along with chemical activity personnel, said Tom Reinhardt, quality assurance specialist (ammunition surveillance), BGCAPP.
“Although the bulk of the chemical weapons are being held in storage at the chemical activity, BGCAPP is keeping containers ready in the event of a leaker in the Explosive Destruction Technology service magazine,” Reinhardt said. “Munitions are delivered to the magazine to await transfer to the Static Detonation Chamber for destruction, so if a leaker occurs there, plant technicians and the equipment will be good to go.”