option.2 The BGAD open burning/open detonation site is currently operating under an interim status permit that allows treatment of 6 million pounds net explosive weight per year for the whole site. Open-burn pans are site-approved for 6,000 lb per event. So if 200 M55 rockets were cut each day, each with a propellant weight of about 20 lb, BGAD could carry out one 4,000-lb event every day and keep up with the pace of rocket motor accumulation (weather and other workload permitting). A proposal with some engineering design would be needed to test out base plate removal and propellant grain extraction. Standard operating procedures (SOPs) or SOP modifications would need to be written and approved for removal of the M28 propellant and the M62 rocket motor igniter assembly.

Since the M28 grain contains lead stearate, the environmental office would need to ensure that lead emissions remain within the permitted levels for their current air pathway hazards assessment for the amount of propellant to be burned. Although BGAD already has a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Subpart X permit to dispose of waste energetics, the levels of lead in the M28 propellant grain could restrict the throughput of separated rocket motors.

The open burning of the propellant grain option would have the following advantages:

  • There would be no need to modify the existing permit or apply for a new one, provided lead releases do not exceed permitted levels;
  • If open-burning operations could keep pace with rocket cutting operations at BGCAPP, the need for a large volume of long-term storage would be eliminated;
  • SOPs are in place for open burning, though a modified SOP might be needed for open burning of the M28 propellant grain;
  • There would be a significant reduction in the risk of endangerment by eliminating the long-term storage of a hazardous material of unknown stability;
  • The steel case could be readily inspected, the removal of all energetic materials verified, and the case certified as safe for recycling;
  • The inert components could be accumulated for subsequent bulk disposal;
  • During thermal destruction, deflagration (burning) of a confined energetic material could lead to an explosion or a transition to detonation. Removal of the propellant grain from the steel case would eliminate the tight confinement of the energetic material during thermal destruction; and
  • If the M28 propellant was removed before thermal treatment, the concern about lead contamination of the metal components would be eliminated and metal components could be readily demilitarized and recycled as processed scrap metal.


The disadvantages of this option would include these:


2Robotics strategies that have been developed for other conventional ordnance items could be applied if the propellant does not easily slide out. Sandia National Laboratories has developed such strategies.

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