The Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant, or BGCAPP, is safely and efficiently destroying the chemical weapons stockpile stored at the Blue Grass Army Depot. A majority of the chemical weapons are being destroyed using neutralization. However, an explosive destruction technology (EDT) is needed to destroy some of the chemical munitions that are difficult to process in the main plant. The EDT chosen to augment the main plant is the Static Detonation Chamber (SDC).
A 2011 X-ray assessment of the chemical weapons stockpile in Kentucky confirmed the solidification of agent in a significant number of 155mm projectiles containing mustard agent, rendering them unsuitable for automated processing in the main plant. These problematic munitions, together with some 200 mustard projectiles that leaked in the past and were overpacked in larger sealed containers, required a different approach for their destruction. To resolve this issue, an SDC destroyed all the approximately 15,000 mustard projectiles, as well as two 3-gallon Department of Transportation bottles containing mustard agent. The campaign was completed in September 2021.
In 2019, due to worker safety concerns, a decision was made to no longer use the Energetics Neutralization System to process M55 rocket warheads that have been drained of nerve agent. Instead, these drained warheads, along with overpacked M55 rockets and potentially M55 rockets that are unsuitable for processing in the main plant but not overpacked, will be processed in the current SDC, as well as a larger unit, called the SDC 2000. The current SDC, now called the SDC 1200, is being retrofitted with a new off-gas treatment system. The drained nerve agent will be processed through the plant’s Agent Neutralization System as originally planned.
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 600 degrees Celsius or 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit) deflagrates or detonates the munition, and the chemical agents and energetics are destroyed by thermal decomposition. Gases generated as a result of the detonation 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. Scrap metal is sufficiently decontaminated to be recycled.