Fifty percent of the mustard agent in the stockpile of chemical weapons stored at the Blue Grass Army Depot in Kentucky has been destroyed as of Sept. 1.
“We are very pleased to have accomplished this milestone safely and effectively, even during a global pandemic,” said Dr. Candace Coyle, site project manager, Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant. “But our focus will not waver until the total stockpile is destroyed.”
Munitions handlers at the Explosive Destruction Technology facility placed the weapon that signified the 50% mark into the destruction process Sept. 1. The 155mm projectile containing mustard agent was placed into a box with a second projectile, conveyed to a lift and raised, then propelled into the Static Detonation Chamber with a pusher bar. The projectiles were electrically heated within the chamber and thermally destroyed through a deflagration or detonation process and off-gases were cleaned through a treatment system. Once cleared through monitoring and cooled down, the metal bodies will be sent for recycling.
“I am very proud of this team for overcoming challenges and working hard and with dedication to get rid of this portion of the stockpile,” said Ron Hink, project manager, Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass. “We will continue the destruction of the mustard projectiles with safety as our highest priority, as always, and look forward to the day when the mustard agent is completely destroyed.”
This milestone was accomplished with the support of many organizations, including the Blue Grass Army Depot, Blue Grass Chemical Activity, Kentucky Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program, Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection and the Madison County Emergency Management Agency.
Workers continue to process the mustard munitions, while following all COVID-19 pandemic protective protocols. Destruction of the mustard-agent munitions began in June 2019 and is expected to conclude in 2021.