Stainless-steel containers used to safely transport chemical weapons from storage on the Blue Grass Army Depot to the Blue Grass plant are ready to be dispositioned now that the munitions at the depot have been destroyed.
“We are 100% confident the Enhanced On-site Containers, or EONCs, are good, clean metal and can safely be dispositioned as scrap,” said Wade Hollinger, technical advisor, Blue Grass plant. “The latest tests confirmed what we already knew.”
The 53 EONCs, which are two decades old and owned by the federal government, originally came to Kentucky from chemical demilitarization facilities at Anniston, Alabama, and Pine Bluff, Arkansas. With their job done, the EONCs passed a final round of internal cleaning and testing to make sure they were free of contamination.
Hollinger said those final activities are out of an abundance of caution since the project already has extensive air-monitoring analyses documenting the EONCs were never contaminated with any chemical agents throughout the munitions destruction process.
Technicians performed the last tests by swabbing for polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. The fiberglass shipping and firing tubes that housed GB or VX nerve-agent rockets contained PCBs. The swabs were taken to ensure no PCB contamination inside the EONCs. The swabs were analyzed by a lab in Louisville and came back clean, Hollinger said.
“From the beginning and now to the very end, the design, procedures, training and operations surrounding the EONCs emphasized extreme caution and safety,” Hollinger said. “The fact we never had a spill, damage or leakage during transport of the munitions is a testament to the storage, handling and transporting expertise of our team and our partners at the Blue Grass Chemical Activity.”
The high-tech devices, which weigh 19,000 pounds each and are designed to withstand almost any type of accident, are going through the government disposition process and awaiting final approval from the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection. They likely will go to regional scrap metal dealers, who will cut them up and recycle the metal.
“If someone sees one of these on the road on the back of a truck enroute to the recycler, they can know it’s safe,” Hollinger said.