The Blue Grass Chemical-Agent Destruction Pilot Plant team has destroyed 25% of the remaining GB nerve agent rockets as of late November.
“As someone who has been in the program for more than 20 years, this milestone means a lot,” said Ralph Thornton, operations manager, Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass. “To me, it is one of the last milestones in a long journey to get rid of these chemical weapons.”
The GB M55 rockets are the last munitions destruction campaign at the Blue Grass facility. Plant staff uses the term campaign to describe the destruction of a particular type of chemical munition.
The 25% mark came less than five months after the first GB M55 rocket was drained and destroyed on July 7, 2022. The average number of GB rockets processed each day has risen steadily since the campaign first began, according to Thornton. Blue Grass crews have processed more than 13,000 of the nearly 52,000 GB rockets in the stockpile in Kentucky.
Crews continue to make adjustments to the rocket-processing lines. The plant is targeting completion by the Chemical Weapons Convention treaty commitment date of Sept. 30, 2023. U.S. public law mandates stockpile destruction by Dec. 31, 2023.
Since the Blue Grass plant team first began destroying chemical weapons in June 2019, more than 60% of the original 523 tons of chemical agent stored in Kentucky has been destroyed.