1
Introduction

BACKGROUND

The United States has been actively destroying its chemical weapons stockpile since 1990. Originally, there were nine locations where the stockpile was stored. Johnston Atoll has completed the destruction of all its chemical weapons using the incineration process described below and has been closed since 2002. At four other sites—in the order of their coming online: Tooele, Utah; Anniston, Alabama; Pine Bluff, Arkansas; and Umatilla, Oregon—the agent and munitions are also being destroyed using incineration for the chemical agents and energetic materials. The metal parts are then decontaminated by being passed through a metal parts furnace where they are heated to 1000°F for more than 15 minutes before being released to the public sector. The large amounts of secondary waste that are generated during operations are treated onsite and sent to a commercial treatment, storage, and disposal facility.

Two sites, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, and Newport, Indiana, had only bulk chemical agents, and these were stored in 1-ton containers. Mustard agent (HD), the only chemical agent at Aberdeen Proving Ground, was destroyed by hydrolysis with hot water. Destruction operations at Aberdeen were completed in 2006, and the facility is now closed. At Newport, Indiana, nerve agent VX is being destroyed by hydrolysis with caustic solution.1 The Newport hydrolysates, which are the products of the hydrolysis, are being sent to a commercial wastewater treatment facility to be reduced to environmentally acceptable materials. This action also serves to meet certain Chemical Warfare Convention treaty requirements. At both sites, the ton-containers were either decontaminated with steam or passed through a metal parts furnace.

In 1996, Congress mandated that the weapons at the two remaining sites, Blue Grass Army Depot (BGAD) in Kentucky and Pueblo Chemical Depot (PCD) in Colorado, would not be destroyed by incineration and that the Department of Defense (DOD) should demonstrate and select alternative methods (Public Law 104-208). In 1999, Congress also passed Public Law 105-261, which required that the Under Secretary “certify in writing to Congress” that the alternative technology would “be as safe and cost effective for disposing of assembled chemical munitions as is incineration of such munitions….” The DOD initiated the Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives (ACWA) Program in response to the congressional mandate.2 Because the selected alternatives at each site would be new applications of the technologies, the Army designated the facilities used to implement the alternatives as pilot plants. Thus, for BGAD the plant was designated the Blue Grass Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant (BGCAPP), and for PCD the plant was designated the Pueblo Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant (PCAPP).

The stockpile at PCD consists of only mustard agent, the majority contained in about 800,000 artillery shells. The stockpile at BGAD includes three chemical agents: sarin (GB), mustard Levinstein agent (H), and the nerve agent VX. The highest-risk munitions are 80,000 M55 rockets containing either sarin or VX. These rockets contain approximately 8 pounds (3.6 kg) of agent and 20 pounds (9.1 kg) of a double base propellant composed of about 20 percent nitroglycerine and 80 percent nitrocellulose. The inventories at BGAD are shown in Table 1-1, and at PCD in Table 1-2.

After an extensive selection process, the Army chose hydrolysis with caustic solution (NaOH) as the primary means of destroying the chemical agents and the energetic materials at BGAD. Because the hydrolysates are still hazardous materials, they must be treated further by a second process before they can be released to the environment. Secondary treatment of the hydrolysate is also a stipulation of the Chemical Weapons Convention.3 At PCAPP, the Army selected bioremediation to

1

This process is often called neutralization.

2

In 1996 the DOD program was called the Assembled Chemical Weapons Assessment (ACWA) Program.

3

The Chemical Weapons Convention was ratified by the U.S. Senate on April 24, 1997.



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1 introduction BackGroUNd not be destroyed by incineration and that the Department of Defense (DOD) should demonstrate and select alternative The United States has been actively destroying its methods (Public Law 104-208). In 1999, Congress also chemical weapons stockpile since 1990. Originally, there passed Public Law 105-261, which required that the Under were nine locations where the stockpile was stored. John- Secretary “certify in writing to Congress” that the alternative ston Atoll has completed the destruction of all its chemical technology would “be as safe and cost effective for disposing weapons using the incineration process described below and of assembled chemical munitions as is incineration of such has been closed since 2002. At four other sites—in the order munitions. . . .” The DOD initiated the Assembled Chemical of their coming online: Tooele, Utah; Anniston, Alabama; Weapons Alternatives (ACWA) Program in response to the Pine Bluff, Arkansas; and Umatilla, Oregon—the agent and congressional mandate.2 Because the selected alternatives munitions are also being destroyed using incineration for the at each site would be new applications of the technologies, chemical agents and energetic materials. The metal parts are the Army designated the facilities used to implement the then decontaminated by being passed through a metal parts alternatives as pilot plants. Thus, for BGAD the plant was furnace where they are heated to 1000°F for more than 15 designated the Blue Grass Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot minutes before being released to the public sector. The large Plant (BGCAPP), and for PCD the plant was designated the amounts of secondary waste that are generated during opera- Pueblo Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant (PCAPP). tions are treated onsite and sent to a commercial treatment, The stockpile at PCD consists of only mustard agent, storage, and disposal facility. the majority contained in about 800,000 artillery shells. The Two sites, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, and stockpile at BGAD includes three chemical agents: sarin Newport, Indiana, had only bulk chemical agents, and these (GB), mustard Levinstein agent (H), and the nerve agent VX. were stored in 1-ton containers. Mustard agent (HD), the The highest-risk munitions are 80,000 M55 rockets contain- only chemical agent at Aberdeen Proving Ground, was ing either sarin or VX. These rockets contain approximately destroyed by hydrolysis with hot water. Destruction opera- 8 pounds (3.6 kg) of agent and 20 pounds (9.1 kg) of a double tions at Aberdeen were completed in 2006, and the facility base propellant composed of about 20 percent nitroglycerine is now closed. At Newport, Indiana, nerve agent VX is being and 80 percent nitrocellulose. The inventories at BGAD are destroyed by hydrolysis with caustic solution.1 The Newport shown in Table 1-1, and at PCD in Table 1-2. hydrolysates, which are the products of the hydrolysis, are After an extensive selection process, the Army chose hy- being sent to a commercial wastewater treatment facility to drolysis with caustic solution (NaOH) as the primary means of be reduced to environmentally acceptable materials. This destroying the chemical agents and the energetic materials at action also serves to meet certain Chemical Warfare Con- BGAD. Because the hydrolysates are still hazardous materials, vention treaty requirements. At both sites, the ton-containers they must be treated further by a second process before they were either decontaminated with steam or passed through a can be released to the environment. Secondary treatment of metal parts furnace. the hydrolysate is also a stipulation of the Chemical Weapons In 1996, Congress mandated that the weapons at the two Convention.3 At PCAPP, the Army selected bioremediation to remaining sites, Blue Grass Army Depot (BGAD) in Ken- tucky and Pueblo Chemical Depot (PCD) in Colorado, would 2In 1996 the DOD program was called the Assembled Chemical Weapons Assessment (ACWA) Program. 3The Chemical Weapons Convention was ratified by the U.S. Senate on 1This process is often called neutralization. April 24, 1997. 

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 ReView aNd aSSeSSMeNT OF deVelOPMeNTal iSSueS CONCeRNiNg The MeTal PaRTS TReaTeR deSigN TABLE 1-1 Inventory of the Chemical Weapons in the Blue Grass Army Depot Stockpile Total Energetics Total Agent per Agent Weight per Energetics Munition (tons, Munition Weight (tons, Item Fill Quantity (lb) rounded) Energetics (lb) rounded) 155-mm projectile, M110 H 15,492 11.7 91 Tetrytol 0.41 3 8-inch projectile, M426 GB 3,977 14.4 29 None 115-mm rocket, M55 GB 51,716 10.7 277 Composition B 3.2 74 M28 propellant 19.1 449 115-mm rocket warhead, M56 GB 24 10.7 0.13 Composition B 3.2 0.035 155-mm projectile, M121/A1 VX 12,816 6 38 None 115-mm rocket, M55 VX 17,733 10.1 89 Composition B 3.2 26 M28 propellant 19.1 154 115-mm rocket warhead, M56 VX 6 10.1 0.03 Composition B 3.2 0.0086 SOURCE: Data adapted from the Munition Items Disposition Action System (MIDAS), provided to the Program Manager for Assembled Chemical Weapons Assessment by the MIDAS team, July 1997. treat the hydrolysates from the mustard agent and the energetic reports from the National Research Council (NRC) (NRC, materials. At BGCAPP, the Army selected supercritical water 2005a,b), but these processes have since been modified and oxidation (SCWO) to treat the hydrolysate. downsized because off-site disposal is now being used to Contracts to design, build, operate, and close both fa- dispose of noncontaminated waste. A simplified process flow cilities were awarded to Bechtel International teamed with diagram showing the feed streams for BGCAPP is provided Parsons Engineering. For PCAPP, Parsons is a subcontrac- in Figure 1-1. tor to Bechtel. For BGCAPP, Bechtel and Parsons formed a joint venture and are teamed as prime contractors. This team The BGcaPP desiGN aNd The meTal ParTs is frequently referred to as the Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass TreaTer Team (BPBGT). The contractors tailored the specific design of each of the two facilities to the respective content of each The stockpile at BGAD consists only of rockets and pro- site’s stockpile. The original processes are described in two jectiles. All munitions are stored on pallets in igloos, which TABLE 1-2 Pueblo Chemical Depot Chemical Weapons Stockpile of HD- or HT-filled Munitions Model Chemical Munition Type No. Fill Energetics Configuration Number 105-mm cartridge M60 1.4 kg HD Burster: 0.12 kg tetrytol Unreconfigured: semi-fixed, complete projectile: 28,376 Fuze: M51A5 includes fuze, burster. Propellant loaded in car- Propellant: M1 tridge. Cartridges packed two per wooden box. 105-mm cartridge M60 1.4 kg HD 0.12 kg tetrytol Reconfigured. Includes burster and nose plug, 355,043 but no propellant fuze. Repacked on pallets. 155-mm projectile M110 5.3 kg HD 0.19 kg tetrytol Includes lifting plug and burster but no fuze. On 266,492 pallets. 155-mm projectile M104 5.3 kg HD 0.19 kg tetrytol Includes lifting plug and burster but no fuze. On 33,062 pallets. 4.2-inch mortar M2A1 2.7 kg HD 0.064 kg tetrytol Includes propellant and ignition cartridge in a 76,722 Propellant: M6 box. 4.2-inch mortar M2 2.6 kg HT 0.064 kg tetrytol Includes propellant and ignition cartridge in a 20,384 Propellant: M8 box. SOURCE: Adapted from U.S. Army, 2004.

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 iNTROduCTiON FIGURE 1-1 Process flow diagram for the Blue Grass Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant. SOURCE: Joseph Novad, Technical Director, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives Program, “Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives Overview, ACWA Program,” briefing to the committee, September 5, 2007. fig 1-1 The energetic hydrolysate containing aluminum in the form are monitored to indicate any leakers. The leakers will be fixed image of sodium aluminate is sent to the aluminum filtration unit treated in a separate campaign. The BPBGT estimates that jpeg was imbeddedSCWO system for further treatment before and then to the in PPT there will not be more than 200 leaking rockets, all contain- being sent off-site for disposal. ing GB. The munitions that do not leak will be handled and After being unpacked from the pallets, the projectiles disassembled on two separate lines, one for rockets and one are conveyed to the projectile mortar disassembly (PMD) for projectiles. machine and the MWS. A robot then picks up a shell and After being unpacked from the pallets, the rockets are places it at the first PMD machine station. The burster is conveyed to the rocket-cutting machine in an explosives removed from the burster tube. The projectile is moved to containment room. The rockets are cut while they are still in the next station, where the burster tube is dislocated and their firing tubes. The cut is indexed so that the rocket motor, deformed. This is accomplished by punching into the casing including the M67 igniter (squib), is separated from the war- so that access to the agent can be gained. The casing still head, which still contains the agent. The rocket motors and containing the agent is moved to the MWS, where it is placed firing tube segments will be sent off-site for processing. The nose down to drain the agent. The interior is washed with a rocket warhead is punched, drained of agent, and washed high-pressure water jet to remove any agent heels or crystals. with a high-pressure water jet in the munitions washout sys- The agent is sent to the agent neutralization system where it tem (MWS). After washing, the aluminum rocket bodies are is hydrolyzed with caustic solution (sodium hydroxide). The sheared into segments. The warhead pieces (and any con- projectile casings, burster tubes, fuze pieces including the taminated rocket motors treated during the leaker campaign) unexploded detonator, and other miscellaneous metal parts are conveyed to the energetics batch hydrolyzers (EBHs), are sent to the MPT for decontamination prior to release to where the aluminum casings dissolve in the caustic solution. the public-sector facilities for recycling. The warhead pieces include the M417 fuzes. One portion of In the MPT, the metal parts are heated to 1000oF for the fuze, the stab detonator, has two copper cylinders that at least 15 minutes. This procedure is an Army-approved are sealed with lacquer that does not dissolve in the caustic method for decontaminating any material before its release solution. Thus these detonators remain energetically active.

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0 ReView aNd aSSeSSMeNT OF deVelOPMeNTal iSSueS CONCeRNiNg The MeTal PaRTS TReaTeR deSigN to the public sector. The MPT is also intended to treat con- monitored for agent vapor leaks. Any leakers (contaminated taminated secondary waste prior to off-site disposal. The rounds) or munitions that cannot be opened safely (rejects) MPT and its off-gas treatment system (OTM) are described are placed into overpacks and sent to a unit that will use in detail in Chapter 2. explosive destruction technology to destroy them without The facility contractor is designing, constructing, and disassembly. testing the MPT as a first-of-a-kind item at the Parsons facil- Rounds that do not require treatment in the explosive ity in Kennewick, Washington. A three-quarter-scale version destruction unit mentioned above will be transported to the of the MPT, called the TRRP MPT in this report, is being agent-processing building, where they enter the MWS. For used in the testing at the Parsons facility. projectiles, the burster well that seals in the chemical agent During testing, the TRRP MPT unit experienced re- will be rammed into the body to gain access to the agent. curring operating problems, such as mechanical failures For mortars, the base plate is cut off. In either case the agent and munitions bodies taking longer than expected to reach is then drained out and a high-pressure water jet cleans any the necessary high temperatures as estimated by computer remaining solids from the body. The empty metal bodies are sent to the MTU, where they are heated to over 1000oF for modeling. The program manager for ACWA asked the NRC to initiate a study to evaluate the current design and testing 15 minutes. results and to advise on the adequacy of the design and the The chemical agent is piped to the agent neutralization need for any future testing. The NRC formed the Commit- system, where it is treated with hot water to neutralize the tee to Review and Assess Developmental Issues Concerning agent. Caustic is added to raise the pH to 10-12. Biotreatment the Metal Parts Treater Design for the Blue Grass Chemical is selected for treating the agent hydrolysate at PCAPP. Agent Destruction Pilot Plant to perform this evaluation. The committee’s statement of task is given in the Preface scoPe aNd orGaNiZaTioN oF The sTUdY of this report. The committee reviewed the design, testing, and thermal modeling of the MPT for BGCAPP. The committee was The PcaPP desiGN aNd The mUNiTioNs also briefed on the MTU to enable a comparison of the two TreaTmeNT UNiT units, to determine if any features of the MTU might be ap- Originally the MPT was planned for use at both plicable at BGCAPP, and to discover whether an MTU could BGCAPP and PCAPP to decontaminate metal parts. The be applicable in the BGCAPP design. Discussions between current PCAPP design now calls for a munitions treatment the committee and the sponsor indicated that the committee unit (MTU) to decontaminate projectile and mortar casings. was not charged with evaluating the MTU in detail, nor was The MTU is being designed by Abbott Furnace Company, St. it asked to consider the relative costs or schedules of the Marys, Pennsylvania, a commercial firm that has extensive two systems or any issues related to permitting and public experience in the construction of high-temperature muffle involvement. furnaces for metal annealing and processing. The BGCAPP This report presents a technical evaluation of the MPT design still calls for two MPTs. and an evaluation of the technical feasibility of replacing The committee was tasked with considering the MTU the MPT with an MTU and supplemental decontamination without actually evaluating it. The MTU is being used in the units and autoclaves such as those being designed and tested for PCAPP.5 The committee’s task was limited to these two PCAPP design to treat all the projectile bodies. At PCAPP, neutralization followed by bioremediation will be used to evaluations and precluded any decision to substitute the destroy the munitions. The munitions will be transported to MTU for the MPT: such a decision can be made only after the explosives containment room, where they are unpacked. considering cost, permitting feasibility, and modifications to The propellant will be removed from the boxed 105-mm the design and the building, as well as the technology. projectile cartridges and the boxed 4.2-inch mortar rounds. In Chapter 2, the MPT, its off-gas treatment system, and The 155-mm projectiles will be removed from their pallets. feed streams are described in detail and reviewed. Chapter All munitions will be passed through the projectile/mortar 3 reviews testing results that have become available in the disassembly machines. The lifting lugs, fuzes, and bursters course of the MPT TRRP 05c tests. Chapter 4 addresses the are separated from the projectile bodies. These bodies still modeling results and the longer-than-expected heat-up times contain chemical agent sealed in the projectile body by of munitions casings in the MPT and the effect on the overall the burster well. Noncontaminated energetics4 will be sent throughput rates. Chapter 5 reviews the applicability of the off-site to an existing permitted disposal facility. At each PCAPP MTU at BGCAPP. Finally, Chapter 6 presents the major step in the disassembly process, the rounds will be committee’s general conclusions and recommendations. 4Noncontaminated energetics are energetics taken from munitions that have had no detectable leak of agent and were not found to be leakers upon 5The accessing the energetics. All energetics from munitions that are leakers are supplemental decontamination unit (SDU) and autoclave are both considered to be contaminated. necessary with an MTU to destroy secondary waste.