• The removal of the propellant grain would entail greater handling of the separated rocket motors than a disposal option that disposed of the propellant grain while it was still within the motor case.
  • Lead would be released into the local environment in the form of fine particulate matter. Over the course of treating 70,000 M55 rocket motors, the total potential quantity of lead released would exceed 3 tons. This might require the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection (KDEP) to set constraints on treatment schedules to minimize the impact on the local population and the environment.
  • The lead releases could restrict throughput of motors to fewer than the number that could be achieved based on net explosive weight limits.
  • BGAD currently disposes of conventional ordnance under the Program Manager for Demilitarization. The rocket motor disposal workload would need to be synchronized with already existing open-burning commitments.

Finding 5-1. The Blue Grass Army Depot has a permitted, operational open-burning site that might be capable of meeting separated rocket motor disposal requirements.

Recommendation 5-1. If the option to burn the M28 propellant grain in the open is investigated, the Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant program staff should consult the Blue Grass Army Depot on its workload and determine if the open-burning unit could be available and easily scheduled for M28 propellant grain disposal.

Recommendation 5-2. Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant program staff should request an engineering design proposal for safely removing the M28 propellant grain from the rocket motor case to determine if the open-burning demilitarization option would be practical to implement.

Use of the Existing D-100 Detonation Chamber at BGAD

One alternative to open burning would be for BGAD to design upgrades to the D-100 detonation chamber already operational at BGAD although not currently in use. This chamber could be used to perform contained burn or static firing disposal operations. As currently designed, the D-100 detonation chamber is an explosive destruction technology, which is discussed in more detail in Chapter 3. CH2M HILL, the chamber manufacturer, and BGAD have proposed modifying this chamber to dispose of the separated rocket motors.3 The throughput estimate is as high as 180 separated rocket motors per day for the D-100 (NRC, 2009).

In the event the rocket motor is unstable or if the propellant is cracked or degraded, a static fire could transition to detonation inside the chamber, damaging it and possibly putting it out of commission until cleared to operate again. In any case, damage to the chamber would accumulate in the course of normal operations, necessitating maintenance and periodic repairs.


3The committee was not able to see the details of this proposal because they are competition sensitive.

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