According to officials, 50% of all chemical agents at the Blue Grass Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant (BGCAPP) have been destroyed.
The Chemical Destruction Community Advisory Board (CDCAB) and the Kentucky Chemical Demilitarization Citizen’s Advisory Council (CAC) held their third annual meeting Thursday at Eastern Kentucky University’s Perkins Building, where they announced the major milestone.
“This is a very good thing,” said Dr. Candace Coyle, project manager for the Blue Grass Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant (BGCAPP) site. “Last time we spoke, we were 50% done with the ammo count… But now we’re up to 50% with the chemical agent…Rockets have a little more agent ( chemical) than projectiles.
According to Coyle, the campaign is still on track to wrap up next December. The overall state of destruction at BGCAPP is 50.51% complete and 264.3 tonnes of agent have been destroyed. The factory’s initial stock was 523 tons of mustard and nerve agent.
Four campaigns were completed at BGCAPP, as the stocks of H 155 mm projectiles, GB 8 inch projectiles, VX 155 mm projectiles and VX M55 rockets were all destroyed.
Currently only the GB M55 rockets remain.
The GB M55 rocket dismantling campaign began on July 6 and was 7.2% complete as of September 15. At the group’s previous meeting, it was noted that this final campaign would be the longest and most dangerous supervised at the facility due to the nature of the rockets.
“We are starting this new campaign on a very slow and deliberate ramp-up as we adapt to the new GB nerve agent versus VX,” said Michael Abaie, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives (ACWA) program manager. “We make sure to do a deliberate analysis as we go forward… The team has done a fantastic job of adapting.”
During the first week, the factory destroyed 10 rockets per day (36 rockets were to be destroyed per day).
In weeks two through three, the factory destroyed 41 rockets per day (64 rockets were to be destroyed per day).
During weeks 4-7, the factory destroyed 45 rockets per day (96 rockets were to be destroyed per day).
During weeks 8-12, 130 rockets were destroyed per day (125 rockets were to be destroyed per day).
The slow start to the campaign comes down to a multitude of factors. Causal damage to equipment was one. Getting used to the new rockets was another.
“People think a rocket is a rocket. But they’re actually a little different. They’re a little different. There were a few tweaks needed. In the interest of safety, we used deliberate speed there- down and we got back on it… We’re gaining momentum,” said Ron Hinkle.
Hinkle said the team had a day when 185 rockets were dismantled and believes the team will be able to dismantle 200 rockets per day on some occasions.
The transition to GB rockets was rapid.
“We were near the end of the changeover or in the middle of it the last time we met in June. I have to applaud Ron (Hinkle, Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass Project Manager) and his team and all of our partners who are setting this up for change,” Coyle said. “It was done in 77 days. It was scheduled for 180 days and I don’t think anyone will change that quickly in the history of chemical demilitarization. So another first for BGCAPP.
Progress is also continuing on preparations for Static Detonation Chamber (SDC) 2000. Abaie said they hope to have the system operational before the end of the year. This is a matter of great importance, as the chamber can be used to destroy all overcharged leaks from the GB rocket campaign.
(CAC) Doug Hindman welcomed David Stipes, Managing Director of the Richmond Industrial Development Corporation, to the Board.
“I want to welcome everyone this afternoon, but I especially want to welcome David Stipes, who is now officially part of our committee after two years. During this time he has been very busy, very helpful and very helpful,” Hindman said.
CDCAB Co-Chair Craig Williams provided an update on an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2023 introduced by Congressman Andy Barr. The amendment would require the Bluegrass Army Depot to do a feasibility study for future uses of the disposal facility.
“During a call Monday with Congressman Barr and Senator (Mitch) McConnell’s staff, I was informed that the National Defense Authorization Act had been usurped by a continuing resolution associated with that Act. “Williams said. “This will not become effective within the expected time frame of late September. and that also means that… it may not pass until December.
The Closure Readiness Working Group will begin meeting in January 2023. They will discuss closure plans for the decontamination and decommissioning of the main plant rooms with individual health risk assessments for each room. Plans will also be developed for decommissioning sampling, in-process monitoring, occluded space, unventilated monitoring, and resource conservation and recovery.
The schedule of CAC and CDCAB meetings in 2023 is as follows;
Wednesday March 1.
Wednesday, June 7.
Wednesday, September 6.
Wednesday, December 6.
The public comment period for Class 2 plant permit amendment applications ends October 17. This would allow for a change in officer oversight levels for the release of rocket warhead containerization system skids from the Munitions Demilitarization Building.
The first delivery of drained GB rocket warheads to the temporary storage of the Blue Grass chemical activity has been made. They are currently awaiting destruction.
The first delivery of GB rocket motors was made to temporary storage in Anniston, Alabama, where they await destruction.
Potential rocket engine destruction at the Department of the Army Bluegrass has been halted.