Ventilated Monitoring Tests Protect Workers, Advance Blue Grass Main Plant Closure

Two Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant technicians prepare to perform a sample line challenge May 25, 2024, in Explosive Containment Vestibule 1, one of the rooms where a ventilated monitoring test, or VMT, was performed. Sample line challenges of air-monitoring equipment are performed before and after VMTs.
Two Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant technicians prepare to perform a sample line challenge May 25, 2024, in Explosive Containment Vestibule 1, one of the rooms where a ventilated monitoring test, or VMT, was performed. Sample line challenges of air-monitoring equipment are performed before and after VMTs.

A series of air-monitoring tests are moving the Blue Grass plant closer to closure of the Munitions Demilitarization Building.

“The ventilated monitoring tests are part of a systematic process to monitor whether even small amounts of chemical agent remain in cracks, porous surfaces or hidden areas,” said Dr. George Lucier, closure chief scientist, Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass. “The test readings help determine whether more decontamination steps are needed and the types of personal protective equipment workers should wear in different rooms. It’s part of our commitment to safety.”

The ventilated monitoring tests, or VMTs, are conducted in areas under normal operating conditions. The tests measure agent levels at what is known as the Worker Population Limit, or WPL, a standard for exposure to chemical agents developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Army. The WPL levels used at the Blue Grass plant are based on 12-hour, time-weighted average concentrations, Lucier said.

In April and May, VMTs were completed in the Motor Packing Room, Energetics Batch Hydrolyzer Room, Explosive Containment Vestibules 1 and 2 and Explosive Containment Rooms 1 and 2. All rooms passed the VMT standards, Lucier said.

In addition to protecting workers, the tests set the stage for more stringent unventilated monitoring tests, or UMTs, later this year. The UMT is a more precise measurement in the evaluation of residual chemical agent and will determine whether a room has been decontaminated sufficiently to meet the plant’s Resource Conservation and Recovery Act permit requirements.

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