Workers are assembling a new off-gas treatment system to allow the existing Explosive Destruction Technology to safely process drained and containerized VX nerve agent rocket warheads.
“The current system was designed to be effective for the treatment of the gases generated by the destruction of mustard agent, which it does quite well,” said Fred Barnes, mechanical engineer lead, Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant. “To be effective at processing the off-gas from nerve agent, however, we have to replace the entire off-gas treatment system.”
Changes to the system include a larger buffer tank, to handle pressure surges from the detonation of energetics in the warheads, and a wet-scrubber system, to cool and cleanse hot gases from the detonation chamber, Barnes said. As with the mustard system, the final step in the new off-gas treatment system is a robust filtration system to clean pollutants from the gas before it exits the stack to the atmosphere. Construction of the new system is proceeding next to the building where the mustard projectiles are being destroyed.
“The new system is an environmentally friendly way of getting rid of these drained and containerized warheads,” Barnes said. “It is designed to meet or exceed Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection requirements with as minimal waste as possible.”
Once the mustard projectiles have been processed and the changeover to process nerve agent is complete, the facility will be known as the Static Detonation Chamber 1200. It is expected to begin processing drained warheads in late 2022.