Closure at Blue Grass Main Plant Moves into Second Stage

Two Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant workers pressure wash the floor in an Explosive Containment Room in the main plant as part of the decontamination and decommissioning phase of closure.
Two Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant workers pressure wash the floor in an Explosive Containment Room in the main plant as part of the decontamination and decommissioning phase of closure.

Blue Grass plant workers are moving into the next closure stage ahead of environmental tests in the spring.

“We cleared one key mark ahead of schedule and are now getting ready for the next big target, the ventilated monitoring test this spring,” said Dave Apodaca, closure manager, Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass (BPBG). “Overall, the process of decommissioning has gone very well.”

In late December, the BPBG team declared completion of gross decontamination and removal of the demilitarization equipment in the Munitions Demilitarization Building, or MDB. The milestone was reached ahead of the date originally set in the main plant closure plan, according to Apodaca.

Among other things, the robots and other Rocket Handling System equipment were removed from the Explosive Containment Vestibules and Explosive Containment Rooms, or ECRs, Apodaca said. The items were cut into pieces and processed through the Metal Parts Treater at more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure the metal met environmental standards for recycling.

Since then, workers have been pressure washing MDB rooms to remove dried caustic residue, which could pose a corrosive hazard to workers, said George Lucier, closure chief scientist, BPBG. Workers continue to wear Demilitarization Protective Ensembles during many of the activities, as the strong focus on safety continues throughout the plant’s closure phase.

The work supports preparation for the 24-hour ventilated monitoring test (VMT) of the MDB’s west side, which includes many of the areas where munitions were destroyed. The specialized test analyzes air quality readings for 24 hours with the ventilation system running to make sure agent is not present at levels that can present a breathing hazard. The VMT is a part of routine closure planning and will help determine whether specific additional decontamination activities are required, Apodaca said.

In another safety move, the transition includes bringing high-tech lightweight mobile robots into the main plant to remove pedestals and grout in the ECRs, and scarify concrete floors in a process known as scabbling.

“Now that the removal of major equipment that was contaminated has been accomplished in those areas, we start to focus on the finer details, removing other utility piping and conduits that may have been exposed to agent vapors and eliminating occluded spaces,” Apodaca said. “We will soon be moving into the east side of the MDB to start removal of contaminated equipment to prepare the east side for ventilated monitoring.”

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