Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant Monthly Recap – September 2023

Current Project Phase:
Closure

Chemical Agent Destroyed as of July 7, 2023:
523.4 U.S. Tons

Highlights

Main Plant Update:

  • The last chemical weapon stored at the Blue Grass Army Depot was destroyed in the main plant July 7, 2023. This milestone also means the destruction of the nation’s declared chemical weapons stockpile is complete. The main plant used neutralization to destroy the nerve-agent munitions.
  • The main plant is now in the closure phase, which is expected to take three to four years. During closure, caustic water solution created during the decontamination of equipment, along with non-agent-contaminated rocket motors, both of which are considered secondary waste, are being shipped off site for final destruction. Plant closure also involves decontamination and decommissioning of facilities and equipment, disposition of property, demolition of facilities not required for future U.S. Army use, and closure of government contracts and environmental permits in accordance with laws and regulations.
  • The safety of the workforce, community and environment will continue to be the plant’s highest priority during the closure phase.
    • GB nerve agent 8-inch projectile destruction began in January 2020 and was completed in May 2020.
    • VX nerve agent 155mm projectile destruction began in January 2021 and was completed in May 2021.
    • VX nerve agent M55 rocket destruction began in July 2021 and was completed in April 2022.
    • GB nerve agent M55 rocket destruction began July 2022 and was completed in July 2023.

  • This Month:
    • Continued removing equipment from Munitions Washout System Room, Explosive Containment Vestibules and Explosive Containment Rooms.
    • Began equipment removal in the Agent Neutralization System Room.
    • Continued waste-management activities in rocket-handling areas.
    • Processed waste through Metal Parts Treater.
    • Continued focus on safety and specialized training.

Static Detonation Chamber (SDC) 2000 Update:

  • The Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant (BGCAPP) is using this SDC unit to destroy secondary waste such as containerized rocket warheads containing GB agent residue and overpacked rocket motors.

  • This Month:
    • Continued destruction of containerized rocket warheads containing residual amounts of GB nerve agent.
    • Destroyed remaining overpacked rocket motors.
    • Conducted maintenance activities on off-gas treatment system.

SDC 1200 Update:

  • BGCAPP converted the Explosive Destruction Technology (EDT), previously used to destroy the mustard-agent munitions, into the SDC 1200, which is now in the systemization phase. This SDC unit will destroy secondary waste products, including drained, containerized rocket warheads containing VX agent residue, starting late 2023.

  • This Month:
    • Completed surrogate testing.
    • Continued Operational Readiness Review.
    • Completed smoke testing for placement of air-monitoring equipment.

EDT Facility:

  • The EDT facility at BGCAPP used an SDC to destroy the mustard-agent munitions.
  • Mustard-agent 155mm projectile destruction began in June 2019 and was completed in September 2021.

Upcoming Meetings

The Honoring Our Commitment: Chemical Weapons Stockpile Destruction Complete in Kentucky event will be held Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023, at 11 a.m. ET at the Armed Forces Reserve Center, Blue Grass Army Depot, 233 Battlefield Memorial Highway, in Richmond, Kentucky. The event is open to the public. To RSVP, contact the Blue Grass Chemical Stockpile Outreach Office at bgoutreach@iem.com or (859) 626-8944.


The next Kentucky Chemical Demilitarization Citizens’ Advisory Commission and Chemical Destruction Community Advisory Board meeting will be held:
Dec. 6, 2023, at 1:30 p.m. ET
Carl D. Perkins Building, Rooms A and B
Eastern Kentucky University
Richmond, Kentucky

For information about the meeting, contact the Blue Grass Chemical Stockpile Outreach Office at (859) 626-8944 or bgoutreach@iem.com.

BGCAPP Overview:

The Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant is a state-of-the-art facility that is in the three- to four-year closure phase after safely destroying the chemical weapons stockpile in storage at the Blue Grass Army Depot near Richmond, Kentucky. The main plant used neutralization to destroy the nerve-agent stockpile. The decision was made to not use the supercritical water oxidation system to process hydrolysate, the product of the neutralization process. This secondary waste was shipped to a licensed and permitted hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal facility. A Static Detonation Chamber (SDC), now known as the SDC 1200, destroyed the mustard agent stockpile. A larger SDC 2000, which began operations on Jan. 27, 2023, augmented the main plant by destroying containerized, drained rocket warheads, overpacked rockets, and problematic palletized rockets. The SDC 2000 will continue to destroy secondary waste such as containerized, drained rocket warheads containing residual amounts of GB nerve agent into the fall of 2024. After an upgrade is complete, the SDC 1200 is expected to begin operations in late 2023 destroying secondary waste such as containerized, drained rocket warheads containing residual amounts of VX nerve agent. The safety of the workforce and the environment, as well as of the neighboring communities, remains the program’s most important priority. This video portrays BGCAPP operations prior to the July 7, 2023, completion of destruction of the chemical weapons stockpile in Kentucky.

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