Technicians changed the filters in the IONEX 16K charcoal filter unit for the Blue Grass Explosive Destruction Technology facility for the first time mid-December.
“The indicator leading to replacement was that we were experiencing low-level agent vapor readings between the first and second charcoal banks,” said Chad Hieronimus, shift plant manager, Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass. “This was not unexpected, and we had planned and prepared for the activity.”
The team practiced multiple times before performing this first-time activity, performing mock entries, waste-bagging activities and more. Not only a first for the EDT 16K filter unit, it was likely a first in the demilitarization field to be performed in full Demilitarization Protective Ensembles as well, instead of lower levels of personal protective equipment, Hieronimus said. With the potential for the presence of chemical agent vapor, this was done for the full protection of the workers.
“The crew changed out 16 pre-filters, 16 high efficiency particulate air filters and 48 carbon trays in full protective gear with supplied air. They changed 48 more in Level C (a lower level of protective equipment) due to monitoring data collected during the change out that showed it was safe for the workers,” Hieronimus said. “A lot went into this to make it happen, and everyone performed as trained for a safe and efficient changeout. The safe execution of this task would not have been possible without the pooled efforts of personnel from multiple plant divisions.”
The bagged and containerized filters will be shipped off-site for disposal at a licensed and permitted hazardous waste disposal facility. The team will perform this changeout activity again at the end of the mustard campaign.
During the activity, the agent remained under engineering controls and the equipment worked as designed to keep the workforce, community and environment safe.