The first M55 rocket containing GB nerve agent was destroyed at the Blue Grass plant July 6.
“The GB rockets are the last type of chemical weapons to be destroyed at the Blue Grass Army Depot,” said Dr. Candace Coyle, site project manager, Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant. “We are committed to safely eliminating the remaining U.S. chemical weapons stockpile by 2023 and then safely closing the plant.”
The M55 rockets containing GB nerve agent represent more than 50% of the original chemical weapons stockpile safely stored at the Blue Grass Army Depot. The workforce is benefiting from lessons learned during the previous VX M55 rocket destruction campaign to optimize processing and continues to maintain safety as their highest priority.
“Our constant theme throughout every campaign has been ‘safety’ and it will remain our theme as we destroy rockets containing GB nerve agent,” said Ron Hink, project manager, Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass. “Our Blue Grass team is ready to finish our mission of destroying every chemical weapon stored in Kentucky.”
Initially, five different kinds of chemical agent-filled weapons were stored at the depot: 155mm projectiles containing mustard agent, 155mm projectiles containing VX nerve agent, 8-inch projectiles containing GB nerve agent, M55 rockets containing VX nerve agent and M55 rockets containing GB nerve agent.
Chemical weapons destruction operations began at the Blue Grass plant on June 7, 2019. Trained operators have overseen the safe destruction of 246.7 U.S. tons of chemical agent. A total of 276.6 U.S. tons of chemical agent remains to be destroyed in Kentucky.
The Blue Grass plant is on target to complete destruction of the chemical weapons stockpile by the Chemical Weapons Convention treaty commitment of Sept. 30, 2023. U.S. public law mandates stockpile destruction by Dec. 31, 2023. After chemical weapons destruction operations are completed, the closure phase will continue for an additional three to four years. The depot will continue its conventional weapons missions beyond the plant’s closure phase.