presence of chemical agent. If chemical agent is detected, the sealed EONC will be opened in the explosive containment vestibule by workers in protective gear, who will overpack any leaking or contaminated rockets; the remaining rockets will proceed to the normal rocket destruction process. If no agent is detected, the rockets will be unpacked from the EONC and placed into the automated rocket handling system (Schlatter, 2010). From that point on, all operations to destroy the agent and warhead bodies will be remotely controlled.


Table 1-1 Time-Weighted Average
Maximum Exposure Limits (μg/m3)

  Time Basis GB VX
GPL 24 hours 0.001 0.0006
STEL 15 minutes 0.1 0.01

SOURCE: U.S Army, 2008.

Figure 1-1 is a basic depiction of an M55 rocket in its shipping and firing tube (SFT) and where it will be cut during processing. Figure 1-2 shows a cutaway model of an M55 rocket in flight configuration with fins deployed. The first step in processing the rockets will be for the rocket cutting machine (which works by pressing a rolling blade first against the SFT and then against the rocket body) to cut the fiberglass SFT into two pieces. The forward piece of SFT covering the warhead will be removed, conveyed to the motor shipping room, and placed in a crate. The rocket cutting machine will then make a second cut at the threaded connection between the warhead and the rocket motor. The intact warhead containing the chemical agent, burster, and fuze will be destroyed at BGCAPP by neutralization followed by supercritical water oxidation, as discussed above.


FIGURE 1-1 Simplified diagram of an M55 rocket in its shipping and firing tube, showing where the tube and rocket will be cut. SOURCE: Ron Hawley, Plant General Manager, Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass Team, “Rocket Processing,” presentation to the committee, March 20, 2012.


FIGURE 1-2 Cutaway depiction of an M55 rocket in flight configuration with fins deployed. SOURCE: Adapted from CMA, 2008.

The separated rear section of the M55 rocket—containing the M28 rocket propellant, igniter, rocket nozzle, fins and other components—and the fore closure still in

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