Neutralization was the technology selected to destroy the stockpile of nerve agent (GB or “Sarin” and VX) contained in rockets and projectiles at the Blue Grass Army Depot. As of April 2022, all projectiles and rockets containing VX nerve agent have been destroyed at the depot. The Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant is actively destroying GB nerve agent contained in M55 rockets.
How Neutralization Works
During the neutralization process, the munitions are taken apart and the nerve agent drained and separated from the weapons’ explosive components (energetics). The nerve agent is mixed vigorously with hot water and sodium hydroxide to destroy, or neutralize, it. The resulting product, known as hydrolysate, is held and tested to ensure chemical agent destruction. After testing confirms the destruction of the nerve agent, the hydrolysate is shipped to a permitted hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal facility for further processing in accordance with environmental permitting.
Gases are filtered through a series of High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) and carbon filters before being released into the atmosphere.
During the projectile campaigns, metal parts from munitions were heated to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit for thermal decontamination for a minimum of 15 minutes. The metal parts were safely recycled.
During the rocket campaigns, the drained warheads are containerized and sent for temporary storage on the Blue Grass Army Depot to await further destruction in a Static Detonation Chamber unit, which uses thermal destruction technology to process the weapons. The rocket motors are packaged, temporarily stored and are sent to Anniston, Alabama, to be destroyed in a Static Detonation Chamber.
Learn more about neutralization by watching these videos: