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Monitoring at Chemical Agent Disposal Facilities 1 Introduction REPORT GENESIS Under the direction of the U.S. Army’s Chemical Materials Agency (CMA), the nation is engaged in the destruction of its stockpile of chemical weapons. In order to protect the health of the demilitarization workforce and destroy these weapons safely, it is necessary to monitor extremely minute levels of airborne chemical agent at sites where these weapons are stored, when transporting them between a storage area and the adjacent demilitarization (disposal) facility, and in the ambient air and process disposal streams of the disposal facilities. Protection of the public living and/ or working near the stockpile storage areas and disposal facilities requires the monitoring of even more minute levels of airborne chemical agents at the fence lines of the storage areas and disposal facilities. At the Army’s request, the National Research Council (NRC) previously examined the chemical agent monitoring systems that have been deployed at the Army’s chemical disposal facilities, and provided advice about methods to improve the currently deployed systems and about the potential role of new technology to supplement the current system (NRC, 1994, 2001). The NRC also evaluated the performance of and identified some operational weaknesses in the currently deployed monitoring systems (NRC, 1999) and analyzed the role that these weaknesses played in a small number of chemical events that resulted in the release of small amounts (less than 50 mg per event) of chemical agent into the ambient air (NRC, 2002). In July 2004, the Army asked the NRC to reevaluate the operation of the airborne chemical monitoring systems deployed at its chemical agent disposal facilities and to investigate whether new measurement technology that could supplement current capabilities is available or quickly achievable. The reevaluation is partially motivated by the adoption of new, lower airborne exposure limits (AELs) for the chemical agents present in the stockpile and by the CMA’s need to reevaluate and redefine its monitoring policies in response to this change (U.S. Army, 2004). The study was also motivated by congressional interest in the possibility of using additional fence-line or community monitoring technologies that might provide extra warning for the public in the event of a significant release of agent from a storage area or disposal facility (National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004, enacted November 24, 2003 (Public Law 108-136), sec. 1056). The full statement of task for this study appears later in this chapter. CHEMICAL DEMILITARIZATION CHALLENGE During the Cold War, the United States produced and stockpiled 31,496 tons of unitary nerve agents (sarin (GB) and VX) and blister (sulfur mustard (H, HD, and HT)) chemical agents. These agents were loaded into millions of individual munitions or, alternatively, stored in bulk containers. These weapons are now obsolete and have been banned by the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), an international treaty that was ratified by the U.S. Congress in 1997. Earlier, in 1985, the Congress had mandated (Department of Defense Authorization Act of 1986, enacted in November 1985 (Public Law 99-145)) that the Army institute a sustained program to destroy some elements of the chemical weapons stockpile, and in 1992 it extended this mandate to require the destruction of the entire stockpile (Arms Non-Proliferation Act of 1992, enacted in 1991 (Public Law 102-484)). The CWC requires that its signatory nations destroy their entire chemical weapons stockpiles by April 29, 2012. From 1990 to 2000, the Army incinerated 2,031 tons of chemical agents and the associated energetic materials in 412,732 munitions and containers that had been stored at Johnston Atoll, southwest of Hawaii, at the Johnston Atoll Chemical Agent Disposal System (NRC, 2002). The remaining chemical agent stockpile was dispersed among eight continental U.S. storage sites, six that have agent loaded into munitions and two that have only bulk containers of agent. The locations, types, and percentage of stockpiled agent and
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Monitoring at Chemical Agent Disposal Facilities the range of munitions and containers that were stored at each of these stockpile sites are shown in Figure 1-1. The Deseret Chemical Depot (DCD) in Tooele, Utah, which originally contained 44.5 percent of the chemical agent stockpiled at the eight continental sites, started agent destruction with a second-generation incineration facility, the Tooele Chemical Agent Disposal Facility (TOCDF), in 1996. TOCDF completed destruction of 50 percent of the DCD stockpile in the summer of 2004. Three third-generation incinerator facilities are now operational. The Anniston Chemical Agent Disposal Facility (ANCDF) started operations in Anniston, Alabama, in 2003; the Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Facility (UMCDF) in Umatilla, Oregon, began operations in 2004; and the Pine Bluff Chemical Agent Disposal Facility (PBCDF) in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, began agent operation in March 2005. The Army has constructed chemical neutralization (hydrolysis) facilities at the two stockpile sites that store only single types of agent in ton containers—one at the Edgewood portion of Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, where sulfur mustard (distilled) (HD) was stored, and the other in Newport, Indiana, where VX is stored. The Aberdeen facility started operations in 2003 and completed agent destruction in early 2005. The Newport facility began operations in May 2005. Designs for neutralization facilities to destroy the stockpiled chemical agent and associated munitions at Pueblo, Colorado, and the Blue Grass facility in Lexington, Kentucky, are currently being developed. Early in 2005, the CMA announced that one-third of the initial chemical agent stockpile had been destroyed. COMMITTEE COMPOSITION AND STATEMENT OF TASK The NRC established the Committee on Monitoring at Chemical Agent Disposal Facilities in mid-July 2004 at the request of the CMA. The committee’s members included experts in analytical, physical, and environmental chemistry, toxicology, chemical process engineering, human factors engineering, industrial safety and operations, and chemical weapons storage and handling (see Appendix A for biosketches of the committee members). The committee’s statement of task, prepared for the NRC by the Army, was as follows: The committee will review and comment on the status of the Army’s and systems contractors’ monitoring capabilities for chemical airborne agents. Specifically, the committee will: Examine existing and applicable new monitoring technologies for sensitivity, selectivity, response time, reproducibility, and reliability and determine the extent to which these technologies can be incorporated into overall FIGURE 1-1 Location and original size (percentage of original chemical agent stockpile) of eight continental U.S. storage sites. NOTE: Of the more than 30,000 tons of agent that were in the original stockpile, only a relatively small amount was GA (tabun). Only two 1-ton containers of pure GA and two 1-ton containers of thickened GA were present in the stockpile at Deseret Chemical Depot in Utah. SOURCE: OTA, 1992.
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Monitoring at Chemical Agent Disposal Facilities program monitoring strategies, particularly for the purposes of process verification, permit compliance, upset conditions, and disposal management. This shall include an examination of sampling techniques and protocols. Assess how regulatory standards for emissions, including the CDC’s [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s] recently promulgated nerve agent and proposed mustard agent airborne exposure limits and the US EPA’s [Environmental Protection Agency’s] Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) rule, are addressed by available monitoring technologies. If existing technology is unable to meet new standards, assess the maturity of each feasible monitoring technology in terms of scope, facility constraints, and schedule to implementation. COMMITTEE ACTIVITIES The committee met in Washington, D.C. (September 2004); Edgewood, Maryland (October 2004); Washington, D.C. (November 2004); and Irvine, California (January 2005) (see Appendix B). Presentations were received from the following organizations: U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency (CMA); U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine; Department of Defense’s Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense; U.S. Army Research, Development, and Engineering Command—Edgewood Chemical Biological Center; Scientific Applications International Corporation; General Physics Corporation; and Battelle Memorial Institute. At these meetings, the committee also held discussions in closed session during which the chemical agent monitoring requirements at chemical agent disposal facilities were analyzed and text for the report was drafted. Committee members and the committee’s NRC study director also visited chemical agent disposal facilities at Pine Bluff Arsenal in December 2004 to review on-site agent monitoring systems and discuss agent detection challenges and procedures with the monitoring branch and laboratory staff at this site. A committee member and several NRC staff also attended the CMA-sponsored “Technologies for Chemical Agent Detection Workshop” that was held in Washington, D.C., on August 24, 2004. REPORT ROADMAP The challenge of monitoring airborne chemical agents accurately, specifically, and quickly at the parts-per-trillion level and below is discussed in Chapter 2 of this report, along with the relevant chemical and physical properties of chemical agents, recently revised AELs, and the related monitoring action levels adopted by the CMA. Chapter 3 reviews the general properties of trace chemical measurements and measurement systems. It also addresses the requirements for the operation of an effective and reliable monitoring system in the industrial environment in and around a chemical agent disposal facility. The analytical instruments, sampling components, and integrated monitoring systems currently used to detect airborne chemical agents at storage and disposal facilities are reviewed in Chapter 4. The chapter also contains an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of these monitoring systems and discusses potential improvements to the systems. Chapter 5 reviews a range of highly sensitive trace chemical detection technologies, currently in use or under development, that might be adapted for use in chemical agent disposal facilities. Potential agent release scenarios in which enhanced monitoring might improve worker safety and promote safe agent disposal or better protect the public and the environment around chemical agent disposal facilities are developed and presented in Chapter 6. The ability of improved versions of the current monitoring technologies or supplemental new monitoring instruments to realize these potential benefits is evaluated. The technical maturity, regulatory compatibility, and potential commercial availability of either improved versions of current systems or supplemental new instrument technology are also evaluated. The committee’s findings and recommendations, presented throughout the report, are collected in Chapter 7. In addition to the committee biosketches and activities presented in Appendixes A and B, respectively, Appendix C contains the text of an amendment proposed in 2003 concerning the sense of the U.S. Senate on deployment of systems for monitoring of airborne chemical agent at U.S. chemical stockpile disposal sites. REFERENCES NRC (National Research Council). 1994. Review of Monitoring Activities Within the Army Chemical Stockpile Disposal Program. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. NRC. 1999. Tooele Chemical Agent Disposal Facility: Update on National Research Council Recommendations. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. NRC. 2001. Occupational Health and Workplace Monitoring at Chemical Agent Disposal Facilities. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. NRC. 2002. Evaluation of Chemical Events at Army Chemical Agent Disposal Facilities. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press. OTA (Office of Technology Assessment). 1992. Disposal of Chemical Weapons: An Analysis of Alternatives to Incineration. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. U.S. Army. 2004. Implementation Guidance Policy for Revised Airborne Exposure Limits for GB, GA, GD, GF, VX, H, HD, and HT. June 18. Washington, D.C.: Department of the Army, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Installations and Environment).
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