The Anniston Field Office, or AFO, is an element of the Program Executive Office, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives, known as PEO ACWA, located at the Anniston Army Depot, Alabama. The mission of the AFO is to support destruction of the remaining U.S. chemical weapons stockpile located in Pueblo, Colorado, and near Richmond, Kentucky. Prior to becoming part of the ACWA program, many AFO personnel were assigned to the former Anniston Chemical Agent Disposal Facility, known as ANCDF, which completed chemical demilitarization operations in 2011. At the completion of the ANCDF mission, most facilities were dismantled, with the exception of the Static Detonation Chamber, or SDC. The SDC was clean-closed for chemical agent, a process which ensures no chemical agent remains in the entire system.
How Does SDC Technology Work?
The SDC uses thermal destruction technology to process the weapons. Chemical munitions are placed in a feed box, conveyed to the top of the SDC vessel and fed into the electrically heated detonation chamber. The high heat (approximately 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit) detonates the munition, and the chemical agents and energetics are destroyed by thermal decomposition. Gases generated as a result of the process are treated by an off-gas treatment system that includes a thermal oxidizer, scrubbers and a carbon filter system. All waste streams generated are screened and remaining scrap metal is decontaminated to be recycled.
How Will the AFO Support Chemical Weapons Destruction in Colorado and Kentucky?
The Anniston SDC unit is capable of providing a dedicated, efficient source for explosives disposal, as well as opportunities for additional non-chemical agent waste disposal research and investigation.
The chemical weapons stockpile located in Colorado originally consisted of more than 2,600 U.S. tons of mustard agent in projectiles and mortar rounds. Explosive components removed from munitions at the Pueblo plant are monitored for mustard agent and shipped to the Anniston SDC for destruction after they are determined to be non-contaminated.
The chemical weapons stockpile located in Kentucky originally contained more than 500 U.S. tons of mustard and nerve agent in rockets and artillery projectiles. The Anniston SDC will process non-contaminated motors separated from VX and GB nerve agent-filled rockets during the Blue Grass rocket destruction campaigns. The AFO also developed and provided testing of the canisters that are being used to containerize drained Blue Grass rocket warheads prior to their destruction in an SDC unit.
The expert staff at the AFO also provides technical evaluation and support for both sites, both during operations and for their upcoming closure phases.