Kentucky Chemical Agent Destruction Plant Makes History

A munitions handler guides a GB nerve agent projectile into a conveyor tray prior to processing at the Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant. The plant made history in January by becoming the only U.S. chemical demilitarization facility to destroy two different chemical agents at the same time.
A munitions handler guides a GB nerve agent projectile into a conveyor tray prior to processing at the Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant. The plant made history in January by becoming the only U.S. chemical demilitarization facility to destroy two different chemical agents at the same time.

The Blue Grass plant recently achieved two major milestones, one of which is a first for the chemical demilitarization program.

“This is the first time in more than a decade that nerve agent has been processed in a destruction facility,” said Dr. Candace Coyle, site project manager, Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant. “In fact, this is the only site in demilitarization history where we are processing two different agents at the same time.”

The plant began destroying mustard agent projectiles in the Explosive Destruction Technology, or EDT, June 7, 2019, and destroyed the first GB nerve agent projectiles in the main plant Jan. 17. The last baseline programmatic destruction of nerve agent concluded in 2008 with the processing of the last land mine containing VX at the Anniston Chemical Agent Disposal Facility in Alabama. At each of the previous demilitarization sites, chemical destruction campaigns were run one at a time, completing one type of agent before destroying the next.

“When we learned the mustard agent projectiles would be problematic for processing through the main plant, we incorporated the EDT for their safe destruction,” said Ron Hink, project manager, Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass. “As a separate facility, it does not share destruction systems with the main plant, so we are able to process two different agents at one time. We have also upgraded the Laboratory to monitor for both agent types.”

At a March 4 quarterly public meeting, attendees conveyed their congratulations and acknowledgement of the plant’s start of nerve-agent operations.

“Those of us who have been around a long time are particularly appreciative of where we’re at,” said Craig Williams, co-chair, Chemical Destruction Community Advisory Board. “I echo the sentiment of the appreciation for the openness and transparency associated with the program.”

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