Project and program management provided information about changes being made to the Blue Grass rocket processing system at a public meeting Dec. 11.
“Nothing has changed in the rocket processing except for the warhead component of it,” said Dr. Candace Coyle, site project manager, Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant. “It still gets punched and drained in the Explosive Containment Room. Where the change occurs is the drained warhead will be placed into a container, it will be crimped and sealed in, placed on a conveyor and sent to the next room. It will be basically free of agent liability at that point.”
The container will be monitored to ensure that condition before it proceeds to the next step, Coyle said. It will then be placed in a labeling station by an automated robot, palletized in a specially designed crate, monitored again and sent out for interim storage on the Blue Grass Army Depot before its final destruction, in one of the plant’s Static Detonation Chambers. Once the rocket warhead has been punched and the chemical agent drained, they will be considered destroyed per international treaty.
“This allows us to be more proactive with the schedule,” Coyle said. “I would rather have a rocket punched and drained than sitting whole in an igloo.”
The containers have undergone multiple rounds of testing, from ergonomic to sympathetic detonation, said Tim Garrett, Program Executive Office, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives’ director of field operations. He is working with the depot and Blue Grass Chemical Activity commanders during the testing process.
“We’re working on cycle time and the parameters associated with the process and the whole thing’s being done in a fast, effective manner to come up with a better solution and a better path forward,” Garrett said.
Modifications to the plant’s environmental permits will be necessary for these changes, with an opportunity for the public to comment on those modifications.