The 8-inch GB agent-filled projectiles safely stored and destroyed on the Blue Grass Army Depot originated at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal in Colorado in the 1960s.
“The projectiles were filled and assembled at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal between 1965 and 1966 using nerve agent GB produced by the arsenal in 1954,” said Tom Reinhardt, quality assurance specialist, ammunition surveillance, Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant. “The high quality steel bodies were made by National Presto Industries, a company familiar to many people as a manufacturer of small kitchen appliances, that also specializes in defense and absorbent products.”
Designed to be fired from howitzers, the projectiles were produced during the period of the Vietnam War, Reinhardt said. Nerve agents created by the United States were developed as a deterrent against other countries possessing nerve agents. In 1986 Congress mandated all U.S. stockpiles of chemical weapons be destroyed.
“We have now destroyed one specific group of weapons that will never be seen again in the U.S. stockpile,” Reinhardt said. “They had a purpose when they were produced, they served that purpose just by their existence, and they have not been needed for many years.”
After the destruction of the GB projectiles, nerve agent VX projectiles and GB and VX rockets still remain in the chemical weapons stockpile stored at the Blue Grass Army Depot and are slated for destruction in upcoming campaigns. The mustard munitions are being destroyed by the Explosive Destruction Technology.
Progress continues at the site and includes workforce measures in accordance with the most up-to-date guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure their health and to prevent the potential spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.