Leaders from the Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant (BGCAPP) met with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell March 23 at Eastern Kentucky University to provide an update on chemical weapons destruction.
The Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant is a state-of-the-art facility that will safely destroy the chemical weapons stockpile currently in storage at the Blue Grass Army Depot near Richmond, Kentucky.
Utilizing neutralization followed by supercritical water oxidation (SCWO), the plant will destroy munitions containing nerve agent. Additionally, the Static Detonation Chamber, an explosive destruction technology (EDT), will augment BGCAPP’s neutralization/SCWO technology to destroy approximately 15,000 155mm mustard projectiles in the Blue Grass stockpile, many of which have been found unsuited for processing through the main plant.
“It’s been a fascinating trek through all the different phases of this project,” McConnell said. “Congrats to all involved in making progress toward destroying these chemical weapons.”
Jeff Brubaker, site project manager, BGCAPP, and Ron Hink, project manager, Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass, spoke with the Senator about the main plant’s transition from construction to systemization, as well as progress on the Explosive Destruction Technology facility.
“We have about 400 systemization employees who are working on testing systems and equipment before the main plant begins destroying nerve agent in 2020,” said Brubaker. “Next year, we’ll move into operations hiring and employ about 800 more people.”
“We plan to begin destroying the mustard munitions using a Static Detonation Chamber in 2017,” said Hink.
The leaders and McConnell discussed that Kentucky will be the last remaining stockpile in the United States and both of the country’s chemical weapons stockpiles are forecast to be destroyed by 2023.
McConnell said this project was one of the first issues he faced when he was elected to the Senate in 1984.
Source: PEO ACWA, adapted