Most Recent Reports
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Disposal Options for the Rocket Motors from Nerve Agent Rockets Stored at Blue Grass Army Depot (2012)
The Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant (BGCAPP) is under construction near Richmond, Kentucky, two dispose of one of the two remaining stockpiles of chemical munitions in the United States. The stockpile that BGCAPP will dispose of is stored at the Blue Grass Army Depot (BGAD). BGCAPP is a tenant activity on BGAD.
The stockpile stored at BGAD consists of mustard agent loaded in projectiles, and the nerve agents GB and VX loaded into projectiles and M55 rockets. BGCAPP will process the rockets by cutting them, still in their shipping and firing tube (SFT), between the warhead and motor sections of the rocket. The warhead will be processed through BGCAPP. The separated rocket motors that have been monitored for chemical agent and cleared for transportation outside of BGCAPP, the subject of this report, will be disposed of outside of BGCAPP. Any motors found to be contaminated with chemical agent will be processed through BGCAPP and are not addressed in this report.
The report addresses safety in handling the separated rocket motors with special attention to the electrical ignition system, the need for adequate storage space for the motors in order to maintain the planned disposal rate at BGCAPP, thermal and chemical disposal technologies, and on-site and off-site disposal options. On-site is defined as disposal on BGAD, and off-site is defined as disposal by a commercial or government facility outside of BGAD.
Assessment of Agent Monitoring Strategies for the Blue Grass and Pueblo Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plants (2012)
January 2012 saw the completion of the U.S. Army's Chemical Materials Agency's (CMA's) task to destroy 90 percent of the nation's stockpile of chemical weapons. CMA completed destruction of the chemical agents and associated weapons deployed overseas, which were transported to Johnston Atoll, southwest of Hawaii, and demilitarized there. The remaining 10 percent of the nation's chemical weapons stockpile is stored at two continental U.S. depots, in Lexington, Kentucky, and Pueblo, Colorado. Their destruction has been assigned to a separate U.S. Army organization, the Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives (ACWA) Element.
ACWA is currently constructing the last two chemical weapons disposal facilities, the Pueblo and Blue Grass Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plants (denoted PCAPP and BGCAPP), with weapons destruction activities scheduled to start in 2015 and 2020, respectively. ACWA is charged with destroying the mustard agent stockpile at Pueblo and the nerve and mustard agent stockpile at Blue Grass without using the multiple incinerators and furnaces used at the five CMA demilitarization plants that dealt with assembled chemical weapons - munitions containing both chemical agents and explosive/propulsive components. The two ACWA demilitarization facilities are congressionally mandated to employ noncombustion-based chemical neutralization processes to destroy chemical agents.
In order to safely operate its disposal plants, CMA developed methods and procedures to monitor chemical agent contamination of both secondary waste materials and plant structural components. ACWA currently plans to adopt these methods and procedures for use at these facilities. The Assessment of Agent Monitoring Strategies for the Blue Grass and Pueblo Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plants report also develops and describes a half-dozen scenarios involving prospective ACWA secondary waste characterization, process equipment maintenance and changeover activities, and closure agent decontamination challenges, where direct, real-time agent contamination measurements on surfaces or in porous bulk materials might allow more efficient and possibly safer operations if suitable analytical technology is available and affordable.
Remediation of Buried Chemical Warfare Materiel
As the result of disposal practices from the early to mid-twentieth century, approximately 250 sites in 40 states, the District of Columbia, and 3 territories are known or suspected to have buried chemical warfare materiel (CWM). Much of this CWM is likely to occur in the form of small finds that necessitate the continuation of the Army's capability to transport treatment systems to disposal locations for destruction. Of greatest concern for the future are sites in residential areas and large sites on legacy military installations.
The Army mission regarding the remediation of recovered chemical warfare materiel (RCWM) is turning into a program much larger than the existing munition and hazardous substance cleanup programs. The Army asked the Nation Research Council (NRC) to examine this evolving mission in part because this change is significant and becoming even more prominent as the stockpile destruction is nearing completion. One focus in this report is the current and future status of the Non-Stockpile Chemical Material Project (NSCMP), which now plays a central role in the remediation of recovered chemical warfare materiel and which reports to the Chemical Materials Agency.
Remediation of Buried Chemical Warfare Materiel also reviews current supporting technologies for cleanup of CWM sites and surveys organizations involved with remediation of suspected CWM disposal sites to determine current practices and coordination. In this report, potential deficiencies in operational areas based on the review of current supporting technologies for cleanup of CWM sites and develop options for targeted research and development efforts to mitigate potential problem areas are identified.
Testing of Body Armor Materials: Phase III
In 2009, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released the report Warfighter Support: Independent Expert Assessment of Army Body Armor Test Results and Procedures Needed Before Fielding, which commented on the conduct of the test procedures governing acceptance of body armor vest-plate inserts worn by military service members. This GAO report, as well as other observations, led the Department of Defense Director, Operational Test & Evaluation, to request that the National Research Council (NRC) Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences conduct a three-phase study to investigate issues related to the testing of body armor materials for use by the U.S. Army and other military departments. Phase I and II resulted in two NRC letter reports: one in 2009 and one in 2010. This report is Phase III in the study.
Testing of Body Armor Materials: Phase III provides a roadmap to reduce the variability of clay processes and shows how to migrate from clay to future solutions, as well as considers the use of statistics to permit a more scientific determination of sample sizes to be used in body armor testing. This report also develops ideas for revising or replacing the Prather study methodology, as well as reviews comments on methodologies and technical approaches to military helmet testing. Testing of Body Armor Materials: Phase III also considers the possibility of combining various national body armor testing standards.
The Blue Grass Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant's Water Recovery System
The Department of Defense, through the Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives program, is currently constructing a full-scale pilot plant at the Blue Grass Army Depot in Kentucky to destroy one of the last two remaining inventories of chemical weapons in the U.S. stockpile.
After chemical warfare agent is destroyed by chemical neutralization and the resulting waste stream is processed by supercritical neutralization, a water recovery system at will employ reverse osmosis to separate salts from the waste water that results from these processes. The design goal is to reuse 70 percent of the water that exits the supercritical water oxidation system as quench water in that system. This report is a review and assessment of the planned water recovery system for this plant, focusing on the operability of the water recovery system and the suitability of its materials of construction. It is worth noting that, by the time the process streams reach the water recovery system, there will be no chemical agent remaining.