Equipment that will cut M55 rockets to separate the warheads from the motors for processing arrived at the Blue Grass plant Nov. 5 and 6.
“The Vertical Rocket Cutting Machines were fabricated and successfully tested at the Louisville vendor location,” said Jeff Brubaker, technical advisor, Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant. “As soon as the factory acceptance testing concluded, technicians loaded the equipment and began delivery to the site.”
The rockets have been stored at the Blue Grass Army Depot for more than 60 years, which has resulted in some warping the previous equipment was not designed to handle, Brubaker said. Once the need was discovered, the equipment was designed, fabricated, successfully tested and delivered to the Blue Grass plant in less than a year.
“Part of the new rocket processing system includes the ability for the control room operator to inspect the cutting location for indication of agent leakage,” Brubaker said. “If a leaking rocket is detected, the station robot will place it directly into a staged overpack container and it will be destroyed in the Static Detonation Chamber 2000. This will greatly reduce potential contamination of the new equipment and be safer for the workforce.”
The new equipment was received at the Blue Grass plant and placed into the Munitions Demilitarization Building. It will now be installed in preparation for systemization. The VX rocket destruction campaign is anticipated to begin in 2021.