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1 Introduction CHEMICAL STOCKPILE DISPOSAL PROGRAM The Army Chemical Stockpile Disposal Program (CSDP) was begun in 1985 as a result of the congres- sional mandate in Public Law 99-145 to dispose of the nation's aging chemical agent and munitions stockpile. CSDP activities are proceeding at the nine sites where portions of the stockpile have been stored. Disposal operations on Johnston Island, about 800 miles south- west of Hawaii, were completed in November 2000. The Johnston Atoll Chemical Agent Disposal System (JACADS), the first baseline incineration system dis- posal facility, became operational in 1990. By the completion date, the 2,031 tons of agents in 412,732 munitions in storage on Johnston Island had been de- stroyed (NRC, 2002a). Eight other stockpile storage sites are located in the continental United States. Operations at a second baseline incineration system disposal facility, the Tooele Chemical Agent Disposal Facility (TOCDF), in Tooele, Utah, are well under way. All 6,047 tons of nerve agent GB that were stored there in munitions and containers have been destroyed. Together, as of July 2002, JACADS and TOCDF had destroyed 25.6 per- cent of the original 31,495 tons of agent that were stored at all nine sites. Construction of three other baseline incineration system disposal facilities has been completed in Anniston, Alabama; Umatilla, Oregon; and Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Two other disposal facilities are nearing completion in Newport, Indiana, and Aber- deen, Maryland. Planning for the last two facilities, in Pueblo, Colorado, and Blue Grass, Kentucky, is in progress. The facilities in Maryland, Indiana, Colorado, and Kentucky will employ chemical neutralization (hy- drolysis) instead of incineration as the primary means of agent destruction. The overall stockpile consists of a variety of chemi- cal agents and munitions. The chemical agents are pri- marily the nerve agents GB (sarin) and VX and mus- tard agent (H. HD, HT), which is a corrosive vesicant (blister) agent. The munitions consist of projectiles, mines, and rockets, all of which contain several pounds of agent each. There are also spray tanks, bombs, and ton containers, each containing hundreds of pounds of agent. The composition of the stockpile and the vari- ous munitions has already been documented (NRC, 1994a). M55 ROCKET PROCESSING M55 rockets filled with GB constitute the most haz- ardous munition-agent combination in the stockpile because GB is the most volatile agent. An M55 rocket is depicted in Figure 1-1. Because of concerns about the higher risks of continued storage of M55 rockets containing either GB or VX, the Army's plans for dis- posal at the sites where the M55 rockets are stored have always scheduled their processing early in the agent disposal campaigns. There is an incentive to process the rockets as soon as safely possible since this reduces the storage risk faster. The rate at which rockets can be processed is a function of both the fa- cility design capacity and the rate allowed in the Re- source Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) op- 7
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8 \ Fumed ASSESSMENT OF PROCESSING GELLED GB M55 ROCKETS AT ANNISTON Fins ~ Rocket M28 Propellant Grain Thin-Wall I< Aluminum ~ Chemical Agent Cavity Burster /~=' Aluminum / Endcap (at Each End) \ \ Collar -- _ / ,-~ / / / FIGURE 1-1 M55 chemical rocket. Source: U.S. Army (2002b). crating permit that is issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (as was the case with JACADS) or the rate authorized by a state environ- mental authority (as is the case with all continental U.S. sites). The rates permitted by the respective regu- latory authorities for JACADS and TOCDF were in both cases equal to or somewhat less than the rate each facility was designed to handle safely. The pro- cessing of rockets in facilities using the baseline in- cineration system developed by the Army is described in detail in Chapters 3 and 4. Briefly, rockets are un- packed, then punched and drained of agent. The agent is transferred to a storage tank from which it is me- tered into a liquid incinerator (LIC), where it is burned. The drained rockets, which contain some re- sidual agent and all the energetics, are then sheared and the parts dropped into the deactivation furnace system (DFS) rotary kiln. ~^ 1,,~ / 0~e / ~;~ Fiberglass Shipping Con ~,~' and Firing Tube it' I;. ,' at' / ~'r.~°~ / / / / 5-in. ni nme.te.r ?'~~ `% , ,~ ~ / 0~' ,~< / / / / No GB M55 rockets containing gelled agent were encountered during disposal processing at JACADS. However, some GB M55 rockets processed at TOCDF contained gelled agent products that would not drain as originally intended. These were sheared and dropped into the DFS with both the gelled agent and energetics. Another issue to be dealt with during disposal pro- cessing is that some GB-filled M55 rockets have leaked during storage and have been overpacked (placed in tightly sealed containers). Processing these overpacked rockets has necessitated additional steps and increased the risk to workers. However, the total number of over- packed GB-filled M55 rockets processed at TOCDF was much smaller than the total number of gelled mu- nitions encountered. Therefore, the delays associated with handling overpacked rockets were small compared with the longer delays associated with processing large
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INTRODUCTION TABLE 1-1 Anniston Chemical Stockpile: Number of Munitions Containing Each Agent Munition Mustard Agent Nerve Agent GB Nerve Agent VX 4.2-in. mortars 258,912 0 0 105-mm projectiles 23,064 74,014 0 155-mm projectiles 17,643 9,600 139,581 8-in. projectiles 0 16,026 0 Ton containers 108 0 0 M23 mines 0 0 44,131 M56 warheads 0 24 26 M55 rockets 0 42,738 35,636 Source: U.S. Army (199Sa). numbers of gelled rockets. The same is expected to be true at Anniston. ALTERNATIVES FOR PROCESSING GB M55 ROCKETS AT ANNISTON Construction of the baseline incineration system fa- cility at Anniston, Alabama. has been completed, and the facility was undergoing systemization (preopera- tional testing) as this report was being prepared. Sys- temization includes conducting trial burns in which agent surrogates are burned in the facility furnaces to test their performance. The original plan for processing rockets at the Anniston Chemical Agent Disposal Fa- cility (ANCDF) was the same as that used at TOCDF. The Program Manager for Chemical Demilitarization (PMCD) estimated that about 20 percent of the 42,738 GB-filled M55 rockets stored at the Anniston site con- tain gelled agent. The VX-filled M55 rockets stored at Anniston number 35,636, but few of them, if any, are believed to be gelled. The chemical agent and muni- tions inventory at Anniston Army Depot consists of 661,529 items that contain 2,253 tons of agent (see Table 1-1) (U.S. Army, 1995a). The Army believes that more gelled rockets can be safely processed per hour at ANCDF than the 1.0 or 1.6 per hour processed at TOCDF. This would de- crease the total processing time and the risk of ex- tended storage. A modified plan calls for increasing the rate to 9.2 per hour. When the Army announced that it was considering higher processing rates for ANCDF than had been demonstrated at TOCDF, lo- cal residents and governmental authorities expressed concern that disposal risks might increase. The Anniston site has more people living near it than any other site. Both the previous Alabama governor and 9 the U.S. congressman who represented the Anniston area (and who has since become the governor) em- phatically indicated that no increase in risk as a result of the processing plan modification would be toler- ated (AP, 2002~.~ In this context, however, it is note- worthy that all past NRC studies and other Army- sponsored risk studies indicated that the risk to workers and the public from continued storage of the chemical agents and munitions is higher than the risk from processing (NRC, 1994a; SAIC, 1998~. The discussions in this report focus on technical con- siderations and related issues in going from a gelled GB M55 rocket processing rate of 1.0 or 1.6 rockets per hour to 9.2 rockets per hour, which would be 6.4 rockets per hour on the basis of an expected 70 percent availability for the DFS. Other rates are reported to reflect the vari- ability of operational experience to date in the process- ing of both gelled and ungelled (drained) GB M55 rock- ets. Drained rockets are defined as rockets from which at least 95 percent of the agent has been removed. STATEMENT OF TASK Both the Army and the current governor of Alabama asked the NRC to assess the processing plan for M55 rockets stored at Anniston. Specifically, the NRC agreed to a statement of task whereby the NRC would · Review data on the stability of stored M55 rock- ets, including past findings and predictions re- garding the storage and disposal processing risks posed by these munitions. iLetter from Congressman Robert R. Riley, 3rd District Ala- bama, to Donald Siebenaler, National Research CounciL July 26, 2002.
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10 · Review operational experience from the disposal of GB and VX rockets at JACADS and GB rock- ets at TOCDF. Obtain data and information suffi- cient to compare the Army's original proposal for disposal of M55 rockets at Anniston, Alabama, with its more recent modified proposal for accel- erated disposal. Assess the potential of the modified proposal to enable the Army to safely accelerate the schedule for disposal of M55 rockets at Anniston. · Assess the risk and hazard analyses associated with the original and the modified proposals for M55 rocket disposal at Anniston for implications concerning potential effects on workers and the general public. . The NRC produced this report in response to the statement of task. While the report is specific to the Anniston situation, the findings and recommendations may be applicable at baseline incineration system fa- cilities constructed at Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and Umatilla, Oregon. ASSESSMENT OF PROCESSING GELLED GB M55 ROCKETS AT ANNISTON ORGANIZATION OF THE REPORT The chapters following this introductory chapter are as follows: · Chapter 2 briefly reviews the available informa- tion on assessments conducted by the Army of the stability of M55 rockets in storage, with an emphasis on the most recent Army report on this subject (U.S. Army, 2002b). Chapter 3 discusses the experience with M55 rocket processing at JACADS and TOCDF. Chapter 4 examines the original and modified plans for processing M55 rockets at ANCDF and the risk and hazard evaluations associated with both. · Chapter 5 contains the committee's findings and recommendations.
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