1
Background and Overview

This report supplements an earlier report (NRC, 2001a) that evaluated eight alternative technologies1 for destruction of the liquid waste streams from two of the U.S. Army’s transportable treatment systems for nonstockpile chemical materiel:2 the rapid response system (RRS)3 and the munitions management device (MMD).4 This report evaluates the same technologies for the destruction of liquid waste streams produced by a third transportable treatment system, the explosive destruction system (EDS).

The EDS is a trailer-mounted system (a schematic is shown in Figure 1–1) that can be driven or flown to a site where nonstockpile chemical materiel is discovered or where recovered materiel has been stored. In the EDS, the nonstockpile munition or container of chemical agent to be destroyed is first enclosed in a sealed chamber. The munition is then opened by detonating shaped explosive charges that are also intended to detonate any explosives present inside the munition. The chemical fill thus accessed is then neutralized by appropriate reagents that are pumped into the chamber. After the concentration of chemical agent falls below the treatment goal (see Chapter 2), the liquid waste solution is transferred out of the chamber into a waste drum.

The EDS is capable of treating both nonexplosively configured munitions and explosively configured munitions. EDS Phase 1 (EDS-1) handles munitions with up to one pound TNT-equivalent weight of explosives; EDS Phase 2 (EDS-2), under development, is designed to handle munitions with up to three pounds TNT-equivalent weight of explosives. The EDS is intended for use with World War I and World War II vintage chemical warfare materiel produced prior to 1945. Post-World War II munitions have larger bursters, which exceed the capacity of the system.

The Army’s baseline plan for destruction of the drummed EDS liquid waste is to incinerate it in a commercial treatment, storage, and disposal facility (TSDF). However, concerns raised by some public interest groups have prompted greater interest in evaluating alternative, nonincineration technologies for liquid waste destruction.

The EDS was originally developed to destroy nonstockpile items that were judged to be too unstable for transport or long-term storage. As such, it was intended to complement the MMD systems, which were designed to be the mobile systems of choice for the treatment of nonstockpile items deemed stable enough for recovery operations. However, the prototype MMD system to dispose of nonexplosively configured munitions proved to be complex, expensive, and difficult to permit.5 A system that would dispose of explosively configured munitions was designed but never built. The EDS is a smaller and less complex system than these MMD systems, and it is now considered the Army’s transportable system of choice for treatment of small quantities6 of nonstockpile munitions.

1  

The technologies were chemical oxidation, wet-air oxidation, electrochemical oxidation using Ag(II) or Ce(IV), supercritical water oxidation, solvated electrons, biodegradation, gas-phase chemical reduction, and plasma arc.

2  

Nonstockpile chemical materiel includes all materiel not part of the chemical weapons stockpile, such as buried chemical weapons, recovered chemical weapons, binary chemical weapons, former production facilities and miscellaneous chemical materiel.

3  

The RRS is a mobile glove box designed to dispose of chemical agent identification sets (CAIS). CAIS are test kits used from 1928 to 1969 to train soldiers in chemical warfare. The sets contain small amounts of mustard and lewisite and a variety of highly toxic industrial chemicals.

4  

The MMD systems were conceived to dispose of nonstockpile chemical munitions. MMD Version 1 was designed to dispose of nonexplosively configured chemical munitions. A second version, never constructed, was designed to dispose of munitions containing both agent and explosives.

5  

The process of obtaining a RCRA permit for initial testing of the MMD-1 in the state of Utah has taken over 5 years.

6  

Sites with a large number (that is, hundreds or thousands) of nonstockpile items are expected to be served by semipermanent treatment facilities.



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Evaluation of Alternative Technologies for Disposal of Liquid Wastes from the Explosive Destruction System 1 Background and Overview This report supplements an earlier report (NRC, 2001a) that evaluated eight alternative technologies1 for destruction of the liquid waste streams from two of the U.S. Army’s transportable treatment systems for nonstockpile chemical materiel:2 the rapid response system (RRS)3 and the munitions management device (MMD).4 This report evaluates the same technologies for the destruction of liquid waste streams produced by a third transportable treatment system, the explosive destruction system (EDS). The EDS is a trailer-mounted system (a schematic is shown in Figure 1–1) that can be driven or flown to a site where nonstockpile chemical materiel is discovered or where recovered materiel has been stored. In the EDS, the nonstockpile munition or container of chemical agent to be destroyed is first enclosed in a sealed chamber. The munition is then opened by detonating shaped explosive charges that are also intended to detonate any explosives present inside the munition. The chemical fill thus accessed is then neutralized by appropriate reagents that are pumped into the chamber. After the concentration of chemical agent falls below the treatment goal (see Chapter 2), the liquid waste solution is transferred out of the chamber into a waste drum. The EDS is capable of treating both nonexplosively configured munitions and explosively configured munitions. EDS Phase 1 (EDS-1) handles munitions with up to one pound TNT-equivalent weight of explosives; EDS Phase 2 (EDS-2), under development, is designed to handle munitions with up to three pounds TNT-equivalent weight of explosives. The EDS is intended for use with World War I and World War II vintage chemical warfare materiel produced prior to 1945. Post-World War II munitions have larger bursters, which exceed the capacity of the system. The Army’s baseline plan for destruction of the drummed EDS liquid waste is to incinerate it in a commercial treatment, storage, and disposal facility (TSDF). However, concerns raised by some public interest groups have prompted greater interest in evaluating alternative, nonincineration technologies for liquid waste destruction. The EDS was originally developed to destroy nonstockpile items that were judged to be too unstable for transport or long-term storage. As such, it was intended to complement the MMD systems, which were designed to be the mobile systems of choice for the treatment of nonstockpile items deemed stable enough for recovery operations. However, the prototype MMD system to dispose of nonexplosively configured munitions proved to be complex, expensive, and difficult to permit.5 A system that would dispose of explosively configured munitions was designed but never built. The EDS is a smaller and less complex system than these MMD systems, and it is now considered the Army’s transportable system of choice for treatment of small quantities6 of nonstockpile munitions. 1   The technologies were chemical oxidation, wet-air oxidation, electrochemical oxidation using Ag(II) or Ce(IV), supercritical water oxidation, solvated electrons, biodegradation, gas-phase chemical reduction, and plasma arc. 2   Nonstockpile chemical materiel includes all materiel not part of the chemical weapons stockpile, such as buried chemical weapons, recovered chemical weapons, binary chemical weapons, former production facilities and miscellaneous chemical materiel. 3   The RRS is a mobile glove box designed to dispose of chemical agent identification sets (CAIS). CAIS are test kits used from 1928 to 1969 to train soldiers in chemical warfare. The sets contain small amounts of mustard and lewisite and a variety of highly toxic industrial chemicals. 4   The MMD systems were conceived to dispose of nonstockpile chemical munitions. MMD Version 1 was designed to dispose of nonexplosively configured chemical munitions. A second version, never constructed, was designed to dispose of munitions containing both agent and explosives. 5   The process of obtaining a RCRA permit for initial testing of the MMD-1 in the state of Utah has taken over 5 years. 6   Sites with a large number (that is, hundreds or thousands) of nonstockpile items are expected to be served by semipermanent treatment facilities.

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Evaluation of Alternative Technologies for Disposal of Liquid Wastes from the Explosive Destruction System FIGURE 1–1 Diagram of the EDS-1 vessel on its trailer. SOURCE: U.S. Army (2001b). Recently, the Army collected data on the performance of the prototype EDS-1 during two disposal campaigns. One campaign involved interim testing of the EDS-1 on a variety of containers of chemical agent and nonstockpile munitions; it was carried out in Porton Down, United Kingdom, from November 1999 to November 2000 (U.S. Army, 2000). The other campaign involved the destruction of six bomblets containing the agent sarin (GB) at Rocky Mountain Arsenal (RMA) in January and February 2001 (U.S. Army, 2001b).7 The Army provided the committee with preliminary data on the neutralization processes and the composition of the EDS liquid waste streams resulting from those campaigns. STATEMENT OF TASK On March 16, 2001, the Army Non-Stockpile Chemical Materiel Program (NSCMP) requested that the NRC undertake a brief supplemental assessment of alternative technologies for the destruction of EDS liquid waste streams. The statement of task is as follows: The NRC will: Examine alternative destruction technologies for liquid waste streams generated from the Explosive Destruction System (EDS). Discuss the regulatory approval issues and obstacles for the combined use of the EDS and the alternative technologies that treat the EDS secondary waste streams. 7   Subsequently, four more bomblets were discovered during remediation of the same area at RMA. At this writing, the EDS-1 had been dispatched to dispose of these also.

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Evaluation of Alternative Technologies for Disposal of Liquid Wastes from the Explosive Destruction System COMMITTEE APPROACH In its earlier report (NRC, 2001a), the committee evaluated eight of the most promising alternative technology candidates for destruction of liquid waste streams from the RRS and MMD. The purpose of the present report is to evaluate these same eight technologies for destruction of EDS liquid waste streams. However, the committee notes that there have been several important developments since the publication of its last report: The MMD program has been suspended; this means that the liquid waste streams generated by nonstockpile mobile treatment systems will be primarily from the EDS, with a small volume from the RRS. New data have become available from the Army’s Technology Testing Program (see Chapter 3) and from its Assembled Chemical Weapons Assessment (ACWA) program on the performance of several of the alternative technologies.8 The primary approach used in this report is to evaluate the ability of alternative technologies to process EDS liquid waste streams and to examine the extent to which the different compositions of the MMD and EDS liquid waste streams might alter the committee’s earlier recommendations on technologies for their destruction. These recommendations are also reconsidered in light of the most recent technology testing results. Because data on the composition of EDS liquid waste streams are still incomplete, the committee found it necessary to make conservative assumptions or to assume the worst case in order to ensure that the recommendations are protective of health, safety, and the environment. Where such assumptions were made, they are duly noted. The committee also highlighted those areas where additional EDS test data are needed to resolve key issues. REPORT SCOPE The committee wishes to stress that this report is a supplemental evaluation that is focused on the destruction of EDS liquid waste streams. Nothing discussed here should be interpreted as the committee’s evaluation of the EDS as a complete operating system. Such an evaluation would have to examine issues such as the structural integrity of the EDS with repeated use, operational procedures, and the EDS’s process chemistry, and would have to assess whether a secondary vapor containment structure is needed. A broader discussion of the system itself could be considered in a future report on systems for the destruction of nonstockpile materiel. The scope of this report is in almost all respects parallel to that of the committee’s earlier report on the treatment of liquid waste (NRC, 2001 a). Only the liquid waste streams of the EDS are considered; no consideration is given to the treatment of solid waste streams. Similarly, no consideration is given to gaseous emissions that may escape through the carbon filter of the waste drum or from the containment chamber as it is opened. In this report, the neutralizing reagents (e.g., monoethanolamine (MEA)) chosen by the Army for use in the EDS-1 are taken as a given; no effort is made to examine how changes in the neutralizing reagents might affect the composition of the liquid waste streams and the applicability of posttreatment technologies. One difference from the earlier report arises from a difference in the procedures used in the EDS and the MMD. Because the EDS is opened after destruction of each individual CWM item, it must be rinsed several times to remove residuals following the initial agent neutralization step. These dilute aqueous rinsates are considered in this report as a separate EDS liquid waste stream. MMD rinsates were not considered separately in the earlier report. As was the case for RRS and MMD wastes covered in the earlier report, the treatment goals for the EDS neutralent destruction technologies considered are that the chemical species and their concentrations in the treatment residuals are such that the residuals could be released directly into the environment or to a publicly owned (or federally owned) treatment works (POTW or FOTW).9 Because this is a supplemental report, only the eight treatment technologies considered previously are considered here; the same criteria used previously to evaluate these technologies are also applied here (see Appendix E). While the focus of this report is on the liquid waste streams from the EDS, the committee notes that it is not always possible to separate the regulatory approval and permitting (RAP) process for EDS liquid waste destruction technologies from the regulatory approval process for the EDS system as a whole. RAP issues for the overall EDS system are to be explored in greater detail in a subsequent report. STRUCTURE OF THIS REPORT Chapter 2 provides a brief description of the EDS, its operational history, the data available on the composition of EDS liquid waste streams, and a comparison with the composition of the MMD liquid waste streams. In Chapter 3, the 8   The ACWA program was reviewed in several studies by another NRC committee (NRC, 1999a, 2000). 9   The committee felt that, on the one hand, a technology need not be excluded if it did not completely mineralize the neutralents, so long as the resulting liquids could be sent for final treatment at a POTW/FOTW. On the other hand, the committee felt that multiple treatment technologies should not be necessary; the selected technology should be able to destroy neutralent such that the residuals could either be released to a POTW/FOTW or sent to a permitted landfill.

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Evaluation of Alternative Technologies for Disposal of Liquid Wastes from the Explosive Destruction System committee examines the applicability of the technologies examined previously to the destruction of EDS liquid waste streams and ranks them in order of preference. Technologyspecific findings and recommendations are also presented in Chapter 3. In Chapter 4, RAP issues associated with the treatment and disposal of EDS liquid wastes, as well as issues relating to public acceptance of disposal processes for EDS liquid wastes, are discussed and appropriate findings and recommendations are presented.