Regulatory Approval and Permitting of the EDS and EDTs

The EDS and two of the three types of explosive destruction technology (EDT) have now been deployed to a number of locations within the U.S. and have been operated successfully. At CERCLA sites, such as Schofield Barracks in Hawaii and Spring Valley in Washington, D.C., destruction technology was established as part of CERCLA documentation. Regulators were given the opportunity, through the CERCLA process, to review the technology documentation and to comment on operating conditions or controls for these containers. The process has worked very well. At some CERCLA locations, such as at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal in Colorado, the regulatory authority sought an additional level of control over operations to destroy recovered sarin bomblets, so it set its own conditions by formulating state versions of RCRA’s emergency order provisions.

In addition to CERCLA sites, the EDS and one of the EDTs have also been used at installations operating under a RCRA permit. Examples include the Pine Bluff Arsenal for the destruction of various types of chemical munitions, and Anniston Chemical Depot, Alabama, where a static detonation chamber (SDC) was used experimentally on waste chemical munitions in anticipation of its use at the Pueblo Chemical Depot. Regulatory approval in these cases was not through the conventional RCRA permitting process, but through alternative regulatory approval mechanisms available under RCRA, such as Research Development and Demonstration (RD&D) permits. The EDS or any of the EDTs may also be approved as a Temporary Unit, mentioned above for approval of the IHF. Use of these alternative regulatory approval mechanisms can work well as a means of allowing the regulatory authority to review documentation and approve use of the devices for RCWM in a timely manner. Another alternative for regulatory approval would be to pursue a conventional RCRA operating permit for a hazardous waste management unit or, in the case of the EDS or the EDTs, a permit for a miscellaneous unit under RCRA Subpart X. Obtaining such permits can be a very long and expensive process, however, taking one or more years and many dollars to finalize.

Finding 3-6. Some states may wish to employ the conventional RCRA permitting process as a means of approving use of the EDS or one of the EDTs at a RCRA CWM munitions response site (MRS). Alternative approaches for regulatory approval might save time and money.

Recommendation 3-6. The Army should urge the Environmental Protection Agency or the state regulatory authority, as applicable, to employ the existing alternative approval mechanisms and flexibility available under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act in lieu of the typical permitting process for use of the explosive destruction system or explosive destruction technologies.

Recycling of Treated Munition Bodies, Fragments, and Other Metals

Recycling of metal fragments has been addressed in prior NRC reports (NRC, 2007, 2010a). However, the number of such metal parts will be much greater at buried CWM sites. For this reason, it would be appropriate to summarize lessons learned. All types of EDT and the EDS will produce a significant amount of metallic secondary waste, consisting of the treated munition body, fragments, and, in some cases, the explosive fragmentation protection system. Currently, the project manager for non-stockpile chemical materiel (PMNSCM) plans to landfill these metal materials as hazardous waste at a RCRA-permitted treatment, storage, and disposal facility (TSDF).16 They could also be managed in a CAMU, as described above. Such secondary wastes, however, could instead be recycled as scrap metal. Experience has shown that EDT and EDS treatment can produce scrap metal that is <1 vapor screening level (VSL) (NRC, 2009a). The Dynasafe unit produces metal that may be released to the private sector for recycling or other uses. However, all the units are expected to be capable of completely removing and destroying the chemical agent.

The committee reiterates its prior view that the scrap metal produced from these devices should be cleared of chemical agent and should be recyclable as well. Recycling the metal from these other technologies might, however, involve demonstrating to federal and/or state regulatory authorities that the metals should no longer be classified as hazardous waste. While recycling from small and moderate MRSs will not result in the recycling of a significant amount of metal, the amount of metal that could be recycled from large MRSs (which are likely to involve hundreds or even thousands of munitions) could be substantial. The committee expects that the Army will continue to explore potential recycling of scrap metal resulting from RCWM treatment.

Extending the Pine Bluff Model

In the same fashion that NSCMP designated Pine Bluff Arsenal, Arkansas, as the location of its EDSs to destroy the non-stockpile inventory at Pine Bluff and to be available for emergency response, one or more of the large remediation sites could be used for this purpose in the future. Each of the large buried CWM sites will require investigation and some level of remediation (containment or treatment) of buried or recovered CWM and other related contaminated media. If a portion of the CWM emergency response team and equipment were located at one of these large sites, cost savings are likely to accrue because personnel could be engaged in remediation of buried CWM when they are not working on emergency responses, and their skills and training can be


16Franklin D. Hoffman, Chief, Operations Team, NSCMP, “Non-Stockpile Chemical Materiel Project Equipment and Capabilities Overview,” presentation to the committee on September 27, 2011.

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