Facts: Blue Grass Rocket Destruction Process

The Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant (BGCAPP) safely destroyed the chemical weapons stockpile stored at the Blue Grass Army Depot (BGAD). The Blue Grass chemical weapons stockpile originally consisted of more than 500 tons of weaponized blister and nerve agent in rockets and artillery projectiles. In September 2021, the final projectiles were destroyed, leaving only M55 rockets. The last M55 rockets were destroyed July 7, 2023. This chart explains how the M55 rockets were destroyed.

  1. Container Handling Building: Pallets of nerve-agent M55 rockets, securely stored and monitored at the Blue Grass Army Depot by the Blue Grass Chemical Activity, were transported in protective devices known as Enhanced On-site Containers (EONC) and received here for destruction. The building had sufficient storage space to allow processing to continue when conditions were not suitable for transporting munitions.
  2. Unpack Area 1: Inside this room within the Munitions Demilitarization Building, EONCs were monitored for the presence of chemical agent before opening. Once cleared, the EONCs were opened, and the rockets were unloaded. Each rocket was then placed into the Rocket Non-Destructive Examination system, which X-rayed the warhead area for evidence of leaks internal to the rocket’s shipping and firing tube (SFT). If a leak was detected, the rocket was overpacked, meaning it was sealed in a larger container, and sent for destruction in the Static Detonation Chamber (SDC) 2000. If the rocket was cleared, operators placed it onto a metering table that delivered it into the next step via a conveyor and airlock.
  3. Explosive Containment Vestibule (ECV): Rockets were placed into the Vertical Rocket Cutting Machine, which made an initial cut to remove the top portion of the SFT, and a second cut to separate the warhead from the rocket motor (see steps 9 and 10 for disposition of the SFT and motor). A robot placed the warhead onto a conveyor, where it moved into the next room.
  4. Explosive Containment Room: The Punch and Drain Station accessed the warhead cavity and drained the warhead of chemical agent. The liquid agent was sent to the Agent Neutralization System for destruction. The punched and drained stage was the verifiable point of credit for destruction under the Chemical Weapons Convention. The drained warhead was sealed in a protective metal container in the Rocket Warhead Containerization System and transferred by robot to the next step.
  5. Energetics Batch Hydrolyzer Room: (Note: This room is named for a previous design which was not used.) A robot labeled and loaded containerized, drained rocket warheads onto a mobile industrial robot for transfer. Another robot then placed each container into a metal transport skid, which was delivered to the next room when full.
  6. Tray Transfer Area: The skids were monitored for the presence of chemical agent. After monitoring, the skid then moved through Unpack Area 2 as it progressed to the final step.
  7. Temporary Storage: Containerized, drained rocket warhead skids were loaded onto trucks for delivery to temporary storage on the depot to await destruction in an SDC unit.
  8. SDC Units: (Note: This activity is taking place as part of closure operations.) The skids are removed from storage and transferred to one of the plant’s two SDC units. Robots place the containerized, drained rocket warheads into this destruction process.
  9. Motor Packing Room: Motors previously separated from the warheads in the ECV were conveyed to this room and placed in a specialized crate, which protected the motors from static electricity. The crates were monitored for the presence of chemical agent. SFT pieces from the ECV were also packaged and placed into roll-off containers adjacent to this room. The crates and containers were then sent to the next step.
  10. Motor Shipping Room: The crates of rocket motors were loaded onto trucks for shipment for final destruction at a licensed and permitted hazardous waste disposal facility. SFT roll-off containers were loaded onto trucks and transported for destruction, also at a licensed and permitted hazardous waste disposal facility.
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