A team of specialists placed a 30,000-pound buffer tank through a roof opening in the former Blue Grass mustard-agent destruction facility March 14 to ready the building for the next chemical weapons destruction effort.
“It took almost four months of preparation for this one-day operation,” said Tom Mitchell, construction project field engineer, Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass. “On the big day, it went smoothly and the equipment went in very well.”
The tank, part of the Static Detonation Chamber 1200 system, was delivered and placed in two pieces, the lower frame and the boxed tank, Mitchell said. The tank was delivered horizontally and required two cranes to lift it to the vertical position before it was rigged for placement. Workers had previously shored up the structure of the building to support removal of a section of the roof and cut the hatch the day before the lift.
This tank replaces the smaller buffer tank from the mustard-agent destruction campaign. It is designed to lessen, or buffer, the pressure wave of gases generated in the detonation chamber by the destruction of the nerve-agent rocket warheads previously drained of their agent in the main plant, which are now considered hazardous waste. This will allow a more constant flow of gases into the first step of the off-gas treatment system. The tank was too large to be brought into the building by other methods, so the lift was carefully planned.
“Getting the buffer tank into place is a large step toward being able to process the drained rocket warheads and eliminate that category of waste from the stockpile in Kentucky,” Mitchell said. “It will be great day when we can turn the lights out on this project and say mission complete.”
Workers are now reinstalling the structural materials adapted or removed for the tank placement and will replace the roof hatch and place a membrane roofing system over the area to prevent leaks. The next steps will be to hook up internal components, make the connections to the rest of the new off-gas treatment system and prepare for testing.