The rocket motors that will be shipped to Anniston, Alabama, for destruction were thoroughly studied before the decision was made to ship them from the Blue Grass site.
“We were concerned about the effects of possible degradation over time, as well as sensitivity to specific radio frequencies or electrostatic discharge,” said Dr. John Barton, chief scientist, Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass. “Multiple studies were completed to support safe transport and off-site destruction operations.”
The studies included a recent Transportation Risk Assessment, or TRA, and an in-depth series of assessments by Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey that took more than a year to complete.
The real question about potential hazard of transporting the rocket motors was related to the age of the rockets, Barton said, as they are approximately 60 years old. Based on the results of compositional and sensitivity testing, the rocket motor assemblies continue to be safe to handle, store, and transport. The TRA concluded the probability of risk was “Seldom or Remote” and “Unlikely or Improbable” for the two categories that warranted risk calculation.
“Our main focus, as always, is the safety of the workforce, the community and the environment,” said Karl Slaughenhaupt, principal deputy, Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant. “A lot of time and effort have been put into studies and research to evaluate the safety and stability of these motors for handling and transportation.”
The motors will be packaged and transported to the Anniston facility during the VX and GB M55 rocket destruction campaigns. The date for the start of shipments has not yet been determined.