Community members discussed the need to properly prepare for Blue Grass plant closure at a Sept. 11 public meeting.
The law governing closure after completion of stockpile destruction, projected for December 2023, requires the facilities to be closed in accordance with applicable laws, regulations and mutual agreements between the Secretary of the Army and the governor of the state in which the facility is located.
“This is something that definitely needs to be a top priority for our community as a whole, the cities of Berea and Richmond, even the ten-county region,” said Reagan Taylor, judge-executive, Madison County. “Right now is the perfect time to start educating citizenry so it won’t be a negative impact. We want this program to leave a legacy.”
The community-formed Economic Impact Working Group has been working on this topic for years, with major accomplishments coming in the last year or so, said Craig Williams, co-chair, Chemical Destruction Community Advisory Board. The group has connected and partnered with several congressional offices, corporate and governmental community-assistance organizations, federal officials and local government, among others, to work on a post chemical-demilitarization future for Madison County, Kentucky, and the surrounding region.
“As we move through operations and talk about closure, there is a heightened concern about what to do with all of the workers, the infrastructure, the future of the depot, etcetera,” Williams said. “I just wanted to point out the significant impact economically that the transition from the chemical weapons operation will have on the community.”
The group already completed Phase 1 of an economic assessment survey and is currently developing a post-demilitarization economic stability vision/plan, transition analysis, an application for government assistance and business plans to attract organizations to the area. The group is broadening and escalating their engagement at multiple levels to ensure the right people will be involved when the time comes to make decisions, Williams said.
The congressionally mandated deadline to destroy the U.S. chemical weapons stockpile is Dec. 31, 2023. After the chemical weapons stockpile in Kentucky is destroyed, the project will undergo several years of closure in compliance with the environmental permit, which includes decontaminating and dismantling equipment and facilities.
The Blue Grass Army Depot will continue its mission of the safe and secure shipping, receiving, storage, renovation, maintenance and destruction of conventional munitions after the BGCAPP mission is complete.