Experts successfully removed fuzes from 30 M56 rocket warheads containing VX chemical agent stored at the Blue Grass Army Depot in late July.
“The operation was a success,” said Rick Wright, quality assurance specialist ammunition surveillance, Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant. “Excellent preparation made for a smooth operation. The level of comfort and teamwork between the teams was very evident.”
The operation was completed by the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives (CBRNE) Analytical and Remediation Activity (CARA) East team with the support of the Blue Grass Chemical Activity, Wright said. The team arrived earlier in July to prepare for the mission and train with chemical activity personnel in a pre-operational survey.
“The pre-operational survey is a great tool and I believe it was an integral part in leading to a safe and smooth operation,” Wright said. “Our assessment included equipment preparation, employee training, inventory and accountability, fuze preparation and packaging, security, surety and emergency response.”
Several years ago, the rocket warheads were separated from their motors, which were then sent to Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey for propellant stability studies. The CARA East experts removed the fuzes from the warheads and safely packaged them for shipment to the Program Executive Office, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives field office at Anniston Army Depot in Alabama for testing in their Static Detonation Chamber (SDC) unit. The warheads were repackaged and returned to storage to await destruction in one of the Blue Grass SDC units.