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Introduction

BACKGROUND

The Johnston Atoll Chemical Agent Disposal System (JACADS), the first fully integrated baseline incineration system for the disposal of stockpiled chemical agent and munitions, is located on Johnston Island, approximately 800 miles southwest of Hawaii. The facility occupies 130 acres of the 625-acre island.1 It is adjacent to a chemical and munitions storage area (known as the Red Hat Area) that once housed about 6.4 percent of the 31,496 tons of the original U.S. stockpile of chemical agents. The residents of Johnston Island are military, government, or contractor personnel. Figure 1-1 shows the location of JACADS, the Red Hat Area, and other facilities on Johnston Island.

JACADS has one large process building where munitions are disassembled and their various components processed and incinerated in three combustion units. There are also a tall stack, auxiliary process off-gas trains, building HVAC equipment, and several auxiliary buildings.

Construction and systemization (operational testing) of JACADS was completed in July 1990. JACADS has had a twofold mission:

  • to destroy the chemical agents and munitions stored on Johnston Island

  • to serve as a demonstration facility for the baseline incineration system, including final facility closure

Following construction and systemization, as required by Public Law 100-456, operational verification testing (OVT) was conducted at JACADS from July 16, 1990, to March 6, 1993. OVT consisted of four disposal campaigns of a representative variety of munitions and containers for each of the major types of agents in the stockpile. The four OVT campaigns were used to evaluate disposal operations for (1) M55 rockets containing nerve agent GB (sarin); (2) M55 rockets containing nerve agent VX; (3) ton (bulk) containers of the mustard (blister) agent HD; and (4) 105-mm M60 projectiles containing HD.

Chemical Agent Stockpiles Elsewhere

Chemical agents are also stockpiled at eight locations in the continental United States. A disposal facility is either operational or under construction at six of these sites. At the time this report was prepared, there were two operational facilities, JACADS (agent operations completed in November 2000) and the Tooele Chemical Agent Disposal Facility (TOCDF) in Tooele, Utah. Three other baseline incineration facilities are under construction at storage sites in Anniston, Alabama; Umatilla, Oregon; and Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Two facilities employing nonincineration technologies to destroy agent stored only in bulk ton containers are also under construction: Aberdeen, Maryland (HD only), and Newport, Indiana (VX only). These facilities are designed to use hydrolysis, followed by biotreatment of secondary wastes at Aberdeen and by supercritical water oxidation at Newport. For the two remaining sites, Pueblo Chemical Depot in Pueblo, Colorado, and Blue Grass Chemical Activity near Lexington, Kentucky, both of which house assembled chemical munitions, the choice of technologies is still pending.

In accordance with the terms of the international Chemical Weapons Convention, which became effective April 29, 1997, the signatories, including the United States, are to have destroyed their stockpiles of chemical agents and munitions by April 29, 2007.

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Johnston Island is approximately 7 percent natural; the remaining 93 percent was created by dredging the surrounding coral reef to build a runway for military operations during World War II. A protective seawall surrounding the island requires periodic maintenance to keep most of the island (which is 7 feet above sea level) from being reclaimed by the sea.



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Closure and Johnston Atoll Chemical Agent Disposal System 1 Introduction BACKGROUND The Johnston Atoll Chemical Agent Disposal System (JACADS), the first fully integrated baseline incineration system for the disposal of stockpiled chemical agent and munitions, is located on Johnston Island, approximately 800 miles southwest of Hawaii. The facility occupies 130 acres of the 625-acre island.1 It is adjacent to a chemical and munitions storage area (known as the Red Hat Area) that once housed about 6.4 percent of the 31,496 tons of the original U.S. stockpile of chemical agents. The residents of Johnston Island are military, government, or contractor personnel. Figure 1-1 shows the location of JACADS, the Red Hat Area, and other facilities on Johnston Island. JACADS has one large process building where munitions are disassembled and their various components processed and incinerated in three combustion units. There are also a tall stack, auxiliary process off-gas trains, building HVAC equipment, and several auxiliary buildings. Construction and systemization (operational testing) of JACADS was completed in July 1990. JACADS has had a twofold mission: to destroy the chemical agents and munitions stored on Johnston Island to serve as a demonstration facility for the baseline incineration system, including final facility closure Following construction and systemization, as required by Public Law 100-456, operational verification testing (OVT) was conducted at JACADS from July 16, 1990, to March 6, 1993. OVT consisted of four disposal campaigns of a representative variety of munitions and containers for each of the major types of agents in the stockpile. The four OVT campaigns were used to evaluate disposal operations for (1) M55 rockets containing nerve agent GB (sarin); (2) M55 rockets containing nerve agent VX; (3) ton (bulk) containers of the mustard (blister) agent HD; and (4) 105-mm M60 projectiles containing HD. Chemical Agent Stockpiles Elsewhere Chemical agents are also stockpiled at eight locations in the continental United States. A disposal facility is either operational or under construction at six of these sites. At the time this report was prepared, there were two operational facilities, JACADS (agent operations completed in November 2000) and the Tooele Chemical Agent Disposal Facility (TOCDF) in Tooele, Utah. Three other baseline incineration facilities are under construction at storage sites in Anniston, Alabama; Umatilla, Oregon; and Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Two facilities employing nonincineration technologies to destroy agent stored only in bulk ton containers are also under construction: Aberdeen, Maryland (HD only), and Newport, Indiana (VX only). These facilities are designed to use hydrolysis, followed by biotreatment of secondary wastes at Aberdeen and by supercritical water oxidation at Newport. For the two remaining sites, Pueblo Chemical Depot in Pueblo, Colorado, and Blue Grass Chemical Activity near Lexington, Kentucky, both of which house assembled chemical munitions, the choice of technologies is still pending. In accordance with the terms of the international Chemical Weapons Convention, which became effective April 29, 1997, the signatories, including the United States, are to have destroyed their stockpiles of chemical agents and munitions by April 29, 2007. 1   Johnston Island is approximately 7 percent natural; the remaining 93 percent was created by dredging the surrounding coral reef to build a runway for military operations during World War II. A protective seawall surrounding the island requires periodic maintenance to keep most of the island (which is 7 feet above sea level) from being reclaimed by the sea.

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Closure and Johnston Atoll Chemical Agent Disposal System FIGURE 1-1 Location of JACADS, the Red Hat Storage Area, and other facilities on Johnston Island. SOURCE: U.S. Army, 2000a.

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Closure and Johnston Atoll Chemical Agent Disposal System TABLE 1-1 Munitions and Bulk Containers Destroyed at JACADS Munitions/Container Type Number HD blister agent-filled projectiles (155-mm) 5,670 HD blister agent-filled projectiles (155-mm from Solomon Islands) 109 HD blister agent-filled mortars (4.2-in.) 43,660 GB nerve agent-filled projectiles (8-in.) 13,020 GB nerve agent-filled projectiles (105-mm) 49,360 GB nerve agent-filled projectiles (155-mm) 107,197 GB nerve agent-filled MK-94 (500 lb) bombs 2,570 GB nerve agent-filled MC-1 (750 lb) bombs 3,047 GB and VX nerve agent-filled M-55 rockets/warheads 72,242 HD blister agent-filled projectiles (105-mm) 45,154 HD blister agent-filled ton containers 68 GB nerve agent-filled ton containers 66 VX nerve agent-filled projectiles (155-mm) 42,682 VX nerve agent-filled projectiles (8-in.) 14,519 VX nerve agent-filled ton containers 66 VX mines 13,302 Total munitions and bulk containers destroyed 412,732 SOURCE: U.S. Army, 2000b. Johnston Island Chemical Agent Stockpile Between 1990 and 2000, 2,031 tons of chemical agents were destroyed at JACADS, 6.4 percent of the 31,496 tons in the original U.S. chemical agent stockpile. Table 1-1 lists the chemical agents and munitions processed at JACADS. ROLE OF THE NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL When construction of the baseline incineration facility at JACADS began in 1987, the Army requested that the National Research Council (NRC) review and evaluate the Chemical Stockpile Disposal Program (CSDP) in order to provide scientific and technical advice and counsel. The NRC established a standing committee, the Committee on Review and Evaluation of the Army Chemical Stockpile Disposal Program (Stockpile Committee), to perform these tasks, beginning with a study of OVT at JACADS. In the intervening years, the Stockpile Committee produced 27 reports on various aspects of the CSDP (see Appendix A). In January 1999, a working group of the committee was established to study the Army’s closure plans and activities for JACADS. This group was briefed on closure activities by the Army and its contractors on several occasions, and it visited JACADS and other facilities under construction. Members of the group also attended meetings of the Army’s JACADS closure campaign integrated project team (IPT). Attendees at IPT meetings included representatives of the office of the Army’s Program Manager for Chemical Demilitarization (PMCD); Washington Demilitarization Company (WDC)2 (formerly Raytheon Demilitarization Company, the Army’s prime contractor for JACADS); U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC); U.S. Army Chemical Activity– Pacific (USACAP); U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine (USACHPPM); the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region IX (San Francisco); the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA); the U.S. Air Force; and the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). The role of the IPT is to facilitate communication between and among all interested parties to bring into existence overall policies and procedures for achieving the acceptable closure of the JACADS facility. During initial information-gathering activities by the committee and the working group, certain overarching issues concerning the closure of the facility became apparent. In a letter report delivered May 4, 2000, to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Chemical Demilitarization, the Stockpile Committee informed the Army of the crucial importance of resolving these issues to advance the closure of JACADS (NRC, 2000a). The letter addressed two major issues: the ultimate stewardship of Johnston Island and the necessity of establishing end-state criteria for cleanup of the site. Chapter 2 reviews the issues addressed in the letter report and their current status. Composition of the Stockpile Committee Over the years, the Stockpile Committee has adjusted the composition of its membership to maintain a balance of disciplines necessary to accomplish the tasks at hand. Current members have expertise in analytical chemistry; biochemical engineering; chemical engineering; chemical industry management; chemical technology and manufacturing; civil engineering; combustion technology; environmental engineering; environmental health policy; environmental restoration; facility closure; hazardous waste management; health risk assessment; incineration; industrial hygiene; materials science; mechanical engineering; monitoring and instrumentation; occupational medicine; organic chemistry; physical chemistry; risk assessment, management, and communication; safety, toxicology, urban studies; and waste treatment and minimization. PURPOSE OF THE REPORT This report examines the planning, documentation, and planned execution of closure operations through April 20013 for JACADS and provides findings and recommendations 2   Washington Demilitarization Company is a subsidiary of Washington Group International, Inc.; it was formed in a merger of Raytheon and Westinghouse demilitarization operations. 3   Because practically no physical demolition had occurred through April 2001, the report does not include an assessment of actual closure operations.

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Closure and Johnston Atoll Chemical Agent Disposal System for the Army’s consideration. No physical closure activities are addressed. Significant issues specific to the closure of JACADS are addressed, and issues important for the closure of other chemical agent disposal facilities in the continental United States are pointed out. Many of these issues have been recognized by the PMCD, and actions have been taken to resolve them. Early recognition and resolution of similar issues and the application of the relevant lessons learned (described in Chapter 6) should help to ensure that closures of the chemical agent disposal facilities at the eight continental U.S. storage sites are conducted safely, efficiently, and economically and that risks to workers, the surrounding communities, and the environment are minimized. Statement of Task The following statement of task is the basis for this report: The NRC study will accomplish the following: Obtain appropriate information and data from the Army and its contractors relative to the planning and preparations for the decontamination, dismantlement, and closure of JACADS. Assess the overall safety and effectiveness of planned closure operations. Examine state-of-the-art closure technology and identify any requirements for specialized technology development. Travel to JACADS to observe the scope and planning of closure operations. Travel to similar facilities currently under construction to observe the construction complexities associated with agent-contaminated areas of JACADS that are not accessible to committee members. Receive input through documents and briefings from the private and public sectors (including international sources) about lessons learned from closures of similarly complex facilities. Review and evaluate aspects of public involvement and interagency governmental issues pertaining to facility closures. Extract lessons learned that will benefit the closure of other chemical agent disposal facilities. The NRC will provide a report to the sponsor that contains findings and recommendations. Organization of the Report The chapters of the report mirror the four primary stages involved in facility closure: (1) assessment and decision making, (2) development of a closure plan, (3) closure operations, and (4) closeout of the facility, which the Army defines to include postclosure activities.4 Following the Introduction, presented in this chapter, the closure planning process is presented in Chapters 2 and 3. Chapter 2 identifies the initial issues that should be considered during assessment and decision making as they pertain to JACADS. Chapter 3 addresses key elements of the development of the closure plan for JACADS. Chapter 4 addresses the implementation of the plan, and Chapter 5 considers facility closeout issues. Chapter 6 sums up the preplanning process and the lessons learned to date about the closure of JACADS that may be applied to improve the various stages of closure for disposal facilities at other stockpile storage sites. Findings and recommendations are presented in Chapter 7. 4   The Army’s closure objective is to render the JACADS facility clean according to Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) criteria and avoid a permit requirement for postclosure care under RCRA (U.S. Army, 2000a).