Original story written by Michaela Ballard for the Richmond Register. Find the original story here.
The explosive detonation technology that will destroy mustard-agent munitions stored at the Blue Grass Army Depot is expected to be delivered and installed at the site by early next year.
A relatively small number of mustard weapons cannot be safely handled by the massive plant that will destroy the more than 500 tons of nerve-agent weapons in the depot’s stockpile.
Craig Williams, co-chair of Chemical Chemical Demilitarization,Community Advisory Board, shared that news with the board Wednesday.
The technology’s early arrival would allow the mustard agent eradication to be completed by the end of 2017, about a year earlier than anticipated, he said.
“They will be gone before the main plant begins operation, so it’s always good news when we think we will finish something sooner than predicted. The date for total completion is now about the year 2022 instead of 2023,” Williams said.
The mustard agent destruction will differ from a mustard demilitarization project that began Wednesday in Colorado, Williams said, because controlled detonations will be used to destroy them here, not just open them.
The Colorado plant will use neutralization after the rounds are opened by explosives, except for a small number that are problematic because of leaks or other issues, Williams said.
Construction of the Blue Grass Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant is now more than 92 percent complete, and systemization at more than 29 percent, according to a presentation by Jeff Brubaker, the government’s site project manager.
Systemization will “allow for the various equipment and processes used for the different types of chemical agents and munitions to be fully prepared for destruction operations,” according to a document provided during the meeting.
The 2016 presidential budget request was approved for the project, at $257.7 million. It awaits congressional approval, however, the program managers believe it will be approved, Williams said.
If a defense budget is not passed, it must return to its previous budget, Williams explained.
“Our 2015 budget is larger than what we are asking for in 2016, so what that means is if this budget passes, we get all the money we need. If it doesn’t, we go back to last year’s budget, which is still than we are requesting,” Williams said.
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