The primary mission of the Blue Grass Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant (BGCAPP) is to safely destroy the Blue Grass Army Depot (BGAD) chemical stockpile, including meeting criteria for successfully treating the resulting hydrolysates in the supercritical water oxidation (SCWO) and water recovery system (WRS) processes. BGCAPP is currently operating under a Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection (KDEP) Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Research, Development and Demonstration (RD&D) permit for the destruction of GB munitions. Under the RD&D permit application Revision 5 submission, the destruction of the GB munitions will be used to demonstrate the effectiveness of the BGCAPP treatment processes. At the conclusion of the RD&D program, the intent is that the facility will have demonstrated that it is capable of operating at full capacity and the remaining VX munitions will be processed through BGCAPP pursuant to a modification to the existing BGAD RCRA (Part B) permit.
The RD&D permit provides for flexibility in implementing operational modifications to the process as part of systemization or pilot testing phases to address deficiencies that may develop or to improve efficiency or effectiveness. Data obtained during both ongoing equipment design and testing programs under the RD&D permit will be used to improve and validate BGCAPP processes, including the SCWO and WRS. The program schedule, as outlined in the RD&D permit application, is designed to allow sufficient time to identify and overcome minor problems that may develop. The RD&D permit will remain in effect for one year after GB munitions are first received, and may be renewed up to three times, with each renewal being for a period of up to one year. However, if unforeseen and insurmountable problems should arise with the SCWO or WRS, it could become necessary for BGCAPP to consider other options, including sending hydrolysate or SCWO effluent offsite in order to continue destruction of the GB and VX munitions currently stored at BGAD (see Chapters 6 and 7). Since such unforeseen and insurmountable problems could arise, it would be prudent to identify all regulatory requirements for offsite shipment and treatment of hydrolysates or SCWO effluent beforehand in coordination with KDEP and any other relevant regulatory bodies and with the Citizens’ Advisory Commission (CAC) and the Chemical Destruction Community Advisory Board (CDCAB), the Program Executive Office (PEO) for Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives (ACWA), and other stakeholders so that the destruction mission is not unduly delayed.
RCRA establishes a program for hazardous waste management from cradle to grave.1 Treatment, storage, and disposal facilities (TSDFs) such as BGCAPP are required to obtain permits that establish specific operating conditions.
The federal program established by RCRA is administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). RCRA provides states with the option to seek EPA authorization to administer their own state-specific programs. Most states have this authorization. KDEP is presently authorized to administer most aspects of the RCRA program within the state of Kentucky.2 KDEP’s RCRA TSDF program is defined in the Kentucky Administrative Regulations (KAR), Title 401, Chapter 34, Standards for Owners and Operators of Hazardous Waste Storage, Treatment and Disposal Facilities (DEP, 2005).
1 42 U.S. Code §6901 et seq.: Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 40 CFR §§260 to 272.
2 At this time, Kentucky has not received EPA state authorization for all RCRA regulations (e.g., the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments (HSWA) of 1984 or HSWA phased amendments). Therefore, federal standards and EPA oversight would apply to any unauthorized sections of the federal program.
While a state that administers its own RCRA program must maintain the standards in the federal RCRA program, it can also make its program more stringent and/or broader in scope. Kentucky’s program is broader scope in that it lists specific chemical agents as acute hazardous wastes.3 The Kentucky-specific listed hazardous wastes include chemical munitions containing the following agents: GB (isopropyl methyl phosphonofluoridate) and related compounds, VX (O-ethyl-S-(2-diisopropyl-aminoethyl)-methylphosphonothiolate) and related compounds, and HD (bis (2-chloroethyl) sulfide) and related compounds (waste codes N001, N002, and N003, respectively).4
In addition to establishing listed hazardous wastes, the RCRA program also establishes characteristic hazardous wastes, defined as wastes possessing characteristics such as ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, and toxicity. A given hazardous waste can be a listed hazardous waste, a characteristic hazardous waste, or both (i.e., it is a listed waste that also possesses at least one RCRA-defined characteristic). Whether a waste is categorized as listed or characteristic is important because the residue of a listed hazardous waste is itself a listed waste (the RCRA derived-from rule), even if it no longer has the attributes of the original listed hazardous waste. This means that the hydrolysate and all downstream secondary wastes resulting from the treatment of listed agent wastes at BGCAPP will retain the Kentucky acutely toxic listed waste designation (i.e., N001 or N002).
It is anticipated that the energetics and agent hydrolysates will have a pH of 11-13 and therefore, in addition to being listed hazardous waste, hydrolysates will typically exhibit the RCRA corrosivity characteristic. These hydrolysates may also contain heavy metals and could therefore exhibit the RCRA toxicity characteristic.5 The energetic portion of the munitions would meet the RCRA reactivity characteristic; however, it is anticipated that after hydrolysis, energetic hydrolysate will no longer be reactive (i.e., RCRA D003 waste).6
Unique to Kentucky, the specific listing of chemical munitions and their related compounds as acute hazardous wastes is required by Kentucky statute in addition to KDEP hazardous waste regulations.7 RCRA provides a delisting process that is available for waste that the generator believes no longer meets the listing description.8 However, in Kentucky, a change to the current RCRA acute hazardous waste listing for chemical munitions and their related compounds would require an amendment to the originating statute. It cannot be accomplished by a change to the KDEP regulation alone. The committee learned at its January 2015 BGCAPP meeting that the CAC/CDCAB’s Secondary Waste Working Group, in coordination with BGCAPP, is currently contemplating a proposal for a legislative change that would not delist the chemical munition wastes but might add listed waste designations for specific treatment (e.g., derived) waste. These designations would apply to any treatment waste that could be shipped offsite for final treatment or destruction. The draft Proposed Waste Code Creation Table supplied by BGCAPP, dated December 18, 2014, shows 13 wastes that would be assigned new Kentucky waste codes, including agent hydrolysate and energetic hydrolysate. The presumption is that the BGCAPP hydrolysate and related secondary wastes proposed to be relisted under new waste codes will have met the 99.9999 percent destruction efficiency treatment standard set forth in the statute and TSDF regulations. The legislative change would relist these derived-from wastes such that they would no longer carry the original acutely toxic hazard code. They would, however, still carry a specific Kentucky hazardous waste code, and would still need to be managed as hazardous waste, just not acutely toxic hazardous wastes. It should be noted that SCWO effluent, which may need offsite shipment if the WRS underperforms or fails to perform, is not included in the current Proposed Waste Code Creation Table. At this time BGCAPP is not anticipating requesting that secondary wastes that meet the 99.9999 percent destruction efficiency treatment standard be delisted altogether.
Finding 4-1. Without a modification to the Kentucky statute that requires chemical munitions and their related compounds to be listed as acutely toxic hazardous wastes under the Kentucky RCRA program, and subsequent modification of the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection regulations, all wastes derived from the treatment of chemical munitions at BGCAPP will retain the acutely toxic hazardous waste designation and will require additional handling and treatment requirements within Kentucky.
Recommendation 4-1. BGCAPP, in coordination with ACWA, should continue to support the CAC/CDCAB Secondary Waste Working Group in pursuing the legislative amendment and subsequent modification of Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection regulations such that all derived wastes can be stored, handled, and treated, both onsite and, as necessary, through offsite shipment, without the more burdensome requirements associated with acutely toxic hazardous wastes. In particular, SCWO effluent should be added to the list of wastes to be relisted with a new waste code.
3 Acute hazardous wastes are wastes that contain chemicals so dangerous that they could pose a threat to human health and the environment even when properly managed. Possession of a much smaller quantity of acute hazardous wastes than other hazardous wastes will subject the generator to stricter onsite management standards than normal.
4 See 401 KAR 31:040, Section 7, Additional Requirement Concerning Nerve and Blistering Agents.
5 RCRA RD&D Permit Revision 5, February 14, 2014, Tables 3-5 and 3-7.
6 Ibid., Section 3.2.3.
7 Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) 224.50-130 and 401 KAR 34:350. Treatment of nerve and blister agents.
8 40 CFR 260.22.
Recommendation 4-2. BGCAPP should consider working with the CAC/CDCAB Secondary Waste Working Group to pursue a legislative amendment and subsequent modification of Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection regulations such that all treatment-derived wastes that meet the 99.9999 percent standard are delisted (i.e., they will no longer be agent-associated listed wastes); these wastes would then be handled and disposed of according to RCRA requirements—for example, if they demonstrate a RCRA hazardous waste characteristic, they would be managed as RCRA hazardous waste.
RCRA Land Disposal Restrictions (LDRs) apply to both listed and characteristic wastes and specify either treatment technologies or constituent concentration limits that must be met before a waste can be ultimately disposed of. The federal LDR program does not recognize Kentucky chemical munition or related compounds as listed hazardous wastes, so no specific LDR treatment standards have been established within the federal RCRA program for these wastes. The KDEP has not established state-specific LDR treatment standards for listed chemical GB or VX munition wastes (i.e., N001 or N002).9 Therefore, since the Kentucky listing for these wastes is only applicable within Kentucky, any hydrolysate or SCWO effluent shipped offsite would only have to respect the LDRs that apply in the state in which the final TSDF is located—for example, that it no longer exhibits a RCRA characteristic (e.g., D002 corrosivity) and that it meets any additional treatment requirements for known underlying hazardous constituents prior to final disposal.10, 11 In addition, under the RCRA LDR regulations, hazardous waste can be stored onsite for more than 1 year only upon a showing that such storage is necessary to facilitate proper future legitimate recycling, treatment, or disposal.12 This may impact the permissible duration of storage while onsite processes are modified to meet performance criteria or while preparations are being made for offsite shipment.
Any offsite shipment of hydrolysate or SCWO effluent would require characterization of the waste before it could be received by an offsite TSDF. BGCAPP has yet to file its Waste Analysis Plan (Compliance Task 18), which will provide the hazardous waste characteristics and underlying constituents for each waste generated at BGCAPP. The current treatment process planned for BGCAPP requires blending of the agent hydrolysate and the energetics hydrolysate into one tank before entering the SCWO treatment units. However, to simplify waste characterization, BGCAPP indicated that if these hydrolysate wastes need to be sent offsite for treatment, it would normally ship the three types of hydrolysate wastes—GB and VX agent hydrolysates and energetics hydrolysates—separately rather than blending them before shipment.13 Only hydrolysates already existing in the SCWO blended feed tank would have to be shipped offsite for treatment as a blended hydrolysate.
Finding 4-2. At this time, the RD&D Permit application does not identify the specific characteristics and underlying constituents necessary to determine the applicable Land Disposal Restriction treatment standards for wastes expected to be treated in the SCWO units, including spent decontamination solutions, agent and energetic hydrolysates, or SCWO effluent.
Recommendation 4-3. BGCAPP’s Waste Analysis Plan should identify the characteristics and underlying constituents of the spent decontamination solutions, agent and energetic hydrolysates, and SCWO effluent to facilitate identification of appropriate LDR treatment standards to be used by a receiving treatment, storage, and disposal facility.
By statute and regulation in Kentucky, any applicant for a TSDF permit to treat chemical munition agent wastes and associated compounds must demonstrate that the proposed treatment or destruction technology has been fully proven in an operational facility of scale, configuration, and throughput comparable to the proposed facility (i.e. BGCAPP), or has been demonstrated as effective, within the chemical weapons disposal programs as directed in Congress’s establishment of the ACWA program and other applicable federal laws.14 It must also be demonstrated that such wastes will be destroyed or neutralized at a destruction efficiency of 99.9999 percent under all operating conditions. In addition, the statute and regulations provide that during the occurrence of malfunctions, upsets, or unplanned shutdowns, all quantities of
9 At this time, Kentucky has generally adopted the federal LDR regulations, but has not received EPA state authorization for all LDR regulations (e.g., the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments (HSWA) of 1984 or HSWA phased amendments). Therefore, federal standards would be applied to Kentucky wastes before land disposal for all regulations not yet authorized for the Kentucky program.
10 It is anticipated in the RCRA RD&D Permit and the BGCAPP Characterization of Supercritical Water Oxidation (SCWO) Operating Requirements issued on September 25, 2014, that before the energetic hydrolysate is released to the hydrolysate storage area, it will have already met the RCRA LDR treatment requirements for deactivation so that the waste no longer demonstrates the reactive characteristic.
11 “Underlying hazardous constituents” do not cause the waste to exhibit a characteristic, but the LDR regulations require underlying hazardous constituents to meet the numeric treatment levels enumerated in the Universal Treatment Standards to be eligible for land disposal (401 KAR 37:040, Section 9/40 CFR 268.48).
12 401 KAR 37:050.
13 Discussions at the Hydrolysate Committee January 2015 meeting in Lexington, Kentucky.
14 What was originally the Assembled Chemical Weapons Assessment program became the Program Manager for Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives and, finally, the Program Executive Office for Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives.
any of the chemical munitions wastes shall be contained, reprocessed, or otherwise controlled so as to ensure that the required destruction efficiency is attained.
As indicated previously, BGCAPP plans to operate under a RCRA RD&D permit for the treatment of all GB munitions. An RD&D permit was chosen because the technologies planned for use in the hydrolysis of agent, coupled with the SCWO treatment of the resulting blended agent and energetic hydrolysates, are a first-of-a-kind (FOAK) application of these technologies. As previously discussed, RD&D permits provide more flexibility, still within the regulatory process, to address any technical problems. This structure provides BGCAPP with the flexibility to make operational and infrastructure changes to overcome technical problems and continue onsite hydrolysate processing than would a conventional RCRA TSDF permit. The BGCAPP RD&D permit limits treatment, storage, or disposal to only the types and quantities of hazardous waste that KDEP believes are necessary to determine the efficacy and performance of the FOAK technologies being employed at BGCAPP. It only applies to the destruction of GB munitions. The RD&D permit provides for construction of and operation of the pilot plant for 1 year. It is anticipated that all of the GB munitions will be treated within the first year of the RD&D permit; however, the RD&D permit application provides that should operations take longer than the anticipated 1 year, BGCAPP may seek additional time (up to 3 years total).
BGCAPP plans to file for a Kentucky Hazardous Waste Part B permit to treat the VX munitions stored at BGAD. BGCAPP intends to submit this permit modification application to KDEP at least 2 years before the end of pilot testing under the RD&D permit in order to allow KDEP adequate time to evaluate and eventually approve the permit based on performance tests conducted during the RD&D pilot testing.15
The disposal of the GB agent and energetics hydrolysates at an offsite TSDF is not included in the current RD&D permit or in the latest permit modification application.16 As noted by BGCAPP and KDEP, any modification to eliminate the use of the SCWO treatment unit and instead ship hydrolysates offsite for further treatment would negate the RD&D permit, since BGCAPP would no longer meet the definition of a FOAK pilot treatment facility.17 If SCWO treatment of the hydrolysate is not possible, and the RD&D permit is negated, BGCAPP would have to request a separate Kentucky Hazardous Waste Part B permit to continue treatment of the GB munitions. However, if only the WRS underperforms or fails to perform, offsite shipment of SCWO effluent may not affect the RD&D nature of the current permit but a modification to the RD&D permit would still be necessary.
According to KDEP, the modification to the BGAD Part B RCRA permit that would be required if SCWO was no longer an option would most likely be a Class III modification.18 According to KDEP regulations, a determination on a Class III permit modification must be made within 365 days.19 However, the 365-day duration for completion of a Class III permit modification could be interrupted by several occurrences—namely, those that:
- The time necessary for BGCAPP to respond to KDEP notices of deficiency (i.e. the applicant has 45 days to respond to each notice of deficiency);
- The time for 60-day notice of a public hearing and then 60 days from the date of any public hearing or meeting on the application to allow the Kentucky Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet to consider the public comments (i.e., for as long as 120 days); and
- The 30-day time period allowed for EPA review of and comment on the permit application and another 30 days for EPA review of the draft permit modification (i.e., 60 days).20
Therefore, even with no notices of deficiency and no public opposition, a Class III permit modification would take at least 180 days or—more likely—over a year, to be completed.
While either permit modification is being processed (i.e., RD&D or RCRA Part B), KDEP may choose to issue a temporary authorization to, for example, allow BGCAPP to begin construction of facilities that may be needed to facilitate shipments of hydrolysate under the BGAD Part B permit or of SCWO effluent under the RD&D permit. Temporary authorizations typically allow for work such as site preparation, construction, and similar activities to occur while a permit modification is in the approval process. Temporary authorizations to begin construction of ancillary facilities may be useful if it becomes necessary to treat the GB agent and energetics hydrolysates generated at BGCAPP offsite, in order to ensure construction is complete or at least nearing completion at about the same time that the Part B permit modification is granted.
An additional requirement of the BGCAPP RD&D permit is to obtain from Madison County a Host Community Certification letter that infrastructure improvements identified in the Emergency Response Plan are complete and that the Community Liaison position is filled. This letter must be
15 RCRA RD&D Permit Revision 5, February 14, 2014, Section 2.6.
16 Hazardous Waste Management Facility Permit (EPA IK DY8-213-820105, AI 2805) issued on September 20, 2005, and RCRA Research, Development & Demonstration, Permit Revision 5, dated February 14, 2014.
17 April Webb, KDEP, “BGCAPP RCRA Permitting,” presentation to the committee on January 28, 2015.
18 BGCAPP RCRA Permitting presentation, April Webb, manager, Hazardous Waste Branch, KDEP.
19 401 KAR 38:025.
20 At this time, Kentucky has generally directly adopted the federal permitting regulations but has not received EPA state authorization for all TSDF regulations (e.g., the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments of 1984). Therefore, EPA must review all permit applications and modifications.
submitted to KDEP prior to the treatment of any hazardous waste.21 Any modification to the RD&D permit may require a new Emergency Response Plan and thus a new Host Community Certification.
Any problems with the BGCAPP SCWO or WRS processes would most likely occur during systemization or while operating under the RD&D permit. However, if the severity of any problems makes it appear that offsite transport of the hydrolysate or SCWO effluent may be necessary, BGCAPP would need a Class III Part B permit modification to allow such offsite transport. This process would likely take 1 year or more, as indicated above, including allowing sufficient time for consultations with stakeholders consistent with Recommendations 3-1 and 3-2. Munitions processing could very well be delayed during this period, and would be delayed once hydrolysate storage is full.
As will be discussed in Chapters 6 and 7, BGCAPP has up to 36 weeks of storage for hydrolysate. BGCAPP will therefore have a significant amount of time to either shut down all or some of the SCWO or WRS units pending such investigation, testing, and modifications that are necessary while still processing munitions and storing the hydrolysate. However, it may be that at some point storage capacity will no longer be available and offsite shipment of excess hydrolysate of SCWO effluent may be necessary to facilitate continuous munitions processing pending such modifications.
Finding 4-3. Munitions processing could be delayed for over 1 year due to the regulatory approval process for a Class III RCRA Part B permit modification if problems with slowing or preventing the onsite treatment of hydrolysate cannot be overcome and if it appears that the offsite transport of the hydrolysates will be necessary either as a short-term or permanent solution.
Recommendation 4-4. As a backup plan, BGCAPP should revise its RCRA Part B permit application currently being prepared for the disposal of VX munitions to allow for the possibility of offsite transport of hydrolysates of VX agent, GB agent, and energetics, as well as spent decontamination solution and SCWO effluent, should the SCWO or WRS process be shown to be irreparable.
Recommendation 4-5. As a backup plan, BGCAPP should consult with KDEP concerning whether the RCRA RD&D permit could be modified to allow the temporary offsite transport of GB hydrolysate (i.e., until the SCWO can be brought back on line) or for the temporary or permanent offsite transport of SCWO effluent should the WRS process be shown to be irreparable.
Recommendation 4-6. BGCAPP should consider obtaining a temporary authorization for planning, site preparation, preconstruction, and similar activities for the siting and construction of offsite shipment infrastructure while BGCAPP is still operating under the RD&D permit.
On p. 49 of its 2008 report, the National Research Council (NRC) pointed out as follows:
On the basis of discussions with state regulators, Mitretek concluded that if offsite shipment of hydrolysate is adopted, neither BGCAPP nor [the Pueblo Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant] would be allowed to begin operations until an appropriate TSDF had been selected and a contract for receipt of the waste was in place. (Bizzigotti et al., 2006)
Even given the necessary permit modification to ship hydrolysates, SDS, or SCWO effluents offsite, no recipient TSDF has yet been identified to accept and treat these wastes. Identifying and contracting with an appropriate recipient TSDF takes time. Any recipient TSDF must have characterization data for the wastes it is to process to demonstrate that it can accept the wastes for treatment under its current RCRA permit. If the BGCAPP wastes are outside of a recipient TSDF’s normal waste acceptance criteria, the TSDF may have to process a RCRA permit modification itself. This could take months or longer if there is public opposition. Because federal contracting requirements must be satisfied, establishing a contracting arrangement with a recipient TSDF could also take months as well. Much like obtaining anticipatory permit modifications to allow shipment of hydrolysate, SDS, or SCWO effluent offsite should it prove necessary, it would be desirable for BGCAPP to identify and possibly contract with a TSDF to be ready to accept these wastes, should it prove necessary.
Finding 4-4. The process of identifying and establishing a contract with an appropriate TSDF to receive BGCAPP GB and VX treatment wastes—including hydrolysates, SDS, and SCWO effluent—could take months. This would prevent the expeditious implementation of any decision to ship wastes offsite for disposal and could delay the overall munitions destruction mission.
Recommendation 4-7. As soon as possible, BGCAPP project management should identify at least one offsite TSDF that is approved to accept BGCAPP wastes. It should then establish the necessary mechanisms to quickly contract with the identified TSDF(s).
The M55 rocket shipping and firing tubes (SFTs) contain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). PCB disposal is regulated under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The PCB-
21 BGCAPP, RD&D Permit, Compliance Schedule, Task 26.
contaminated SFTs will exit BGCAPP along with uncontaminated rocket motors separated from the nonleaking agent-filled warheads for treatment and disposal at an offsite facility permitted under TSCA to receive these wastes. However, as part of the wastes generated during treatment of rockets with leaking warheads, PCB-contaminated SFTs will be processed in the energetics batch hydrolyzer.22 The BGCAPP RD&D permit modification application indicated that a TSCA permit application has been prepared and submitted to EPA Region 4 for management of PCB-contaminated SFTs as part of the M55 leaker campaign.23 On the assumption that all PCB contained in the SFTs processed in the energetics batch hydrolyzer are transferred to the hydrolysate, a total PCB concentration per energetics hydrolysis batch of 44 ppm has been calculated. This concentration is below the 50 ppm limit at which TSCA regulation (e.g., permitting) comes into play for onsite SCWO or offsite treatment of this hydrolysate.24
The gas streams exiting the SCWO unit are expected to be very low in total hydrocarbons (less than 1 ppm). The CO concentration has been demonstrated during the system demonstration programs to be consistently less than 2 ppm, and particulates in the offgases have been less than 4 mg/dry standard cubic meter (DSCM). Cadmium (Cd) and lead (Pb) are less than 0.015 mg/DSCM, and antimony (Sb), arsenic (As), beryllium (Be), and chromium (Cr) are less than 0.045 mg/DSCM. Most of these values are at or below the lower limit of detection of the measurement method, and are below levels commonly found in ambient air, but are not intended to serve as permitting target levels for SCWO gas stream exhaust.25 The BGAD Title V Air Permit prepared to comply with Clean Air Act requirements was amended to include BGCAPP as a source; the BGCAPP hydrolysate tanks (which are equipped with carbon adsorber systems), the aluminum precipitation and filtration building heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) filters system exhaust, the SCWO process building HVAC filter system exhaust, and various SCWO chemical tanks were included as insignificant activities that have to comply with identified applicable regulations. Of those insignificant activities associated with the SCWO, only the SCWO HVAC filter system exhaust must meet a particular applicable regulation: namely, the KDEP requirements for opacity and particulate emissions.26
Should the WRS function be degraded or cease operations, the recycled reverse osmosis permeate water from the WRS would not be available for SCWO operations. If that were the case, BGCAPP indicated that in order to continue to supply the SCWO processes with quench water it would have to draw replacement water from other available plant sources. However, replacing the reverse osmosis permeate water from the WRS could require increasing BGAD’s water withdrawals from Lake Vega. The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), dated December 2002, found that process water requirements for plant operations for all four technology alternatives, including the neutralization followed by SCWO treatment technology, were within the capacity of Lake Vega.27 The FEIS found that agent neutralization followed by SCWO treatment technology would require approximately 6 million gallons of process water annually, and that no present or planned activities were identified that would result in withdrawals in excess of the quantity specified in the water permit issued to BGAD by KDEP: a monthly average of 500,000 gal. If necessary, the BGAD water withdrawal permit could be modified to accommodate the increased demand for water, and the 500,000 gal storage tank could provide a short-term supply of process water. However, in the event of an extreme and prolonged drought, the FEIS assumed that agent neutralization operations would be halted before reduced water supply availability jeopardized plant safety.
The review of an application for a revision of a water withdrawal permit will take 90 calendar days after receipt of an administratively complete permit application, excluding any time necessary for (1) response to notices of deficiency; (2) litigation; (3) public hearing or public comment period on a draft or proposed permit; or (4) any federal, state, or local agency comment period or Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet requests for additional information. The issue date of the permit may be as much as 3 years in advance of the effective date, so any modification granted can be held for 3 years and then allowed to lapse once the water is no longer needed as backup for the process water from the WRS. However, should the existing water withdrawal limits, along with the current water storage, not be able to supply sufficient water for SCWO requirements, munition processing may have to be slowed or stopped until the permit modification is granted so as to not jeopardize plant safety.
Finding 4-5. If it appears that obstacles to WRS issues cannot be overcome, or overcome before the existing process water storage capacity is expended and additional water withdrawals that exceed the current permitted volumes become necessary, munitions processing would likely be delayed for
22 RCRA Research, Development & Demonstration Permit Revision 5, February 14, 2014, Section 188.8.131.52.
23 Ibid., Section 184.108.40.206.
24 Battelle Calculation Continuation Sheet, Concentration of PCBs in one EBH batch, no date.
25 RCRA Research, Development & Demonstration Permit Revision 5, February 14, 2014, Section 220.127.116.11.
26 401 KAR 59:010, Sections 3(1) and 3(2).
27 Final Environmental Impact Statement, 2002, Destruction of Chemical Munitions at Blue Grass Army Depot, Kentucky, December.
over 90 days based on the regulatory approval process for a Kentucky water withdrawal permit modification.28
Recommendation 4-8. BGCAPP should determine the potential shortfall of process water if reverse osmosis permeate water is not able to be reused and ensure there is sufficient plant water from BGAD. If there are insufficient plant water supplies available to maintain BGCAPP’s proposed throughput schedule, BGCAPP should, as a backup plan, modify its Kentucky water withdrawal permit to allow for sufficient water sources to maintain operations of the plant without the reverse osmosis permeate water.
As indicated in the NRC report Review of Secondary Waste Disposal Planning for the Blue Grass and Pueblo Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plants (2008), BGCAPP prepared and issued an environmental impact statement (EIS), under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), that covers the construction and operation of the facility. The draft EIS for the destruction of chemical agents and munitions stored at BGAD was released for public comment in May 2002. It considered the environmental impacts of no action, incineration, two neutralization technologies, and electrochemical oxidation. The FEIS incorporated all comments. The FEIS did not address offsite shipment of hydrolysate or SCWO effluent. The Record of Decision, issued February 27, 2003, does not consider offsite shipment of hydrolysate or SCWO effluent and, in fact, finds that the quantity of hazardous liquid wastes is expected to be small to nonexistent (due to recycling) for all four treatment alternatives considered. According to NEPA, if an existing EIS or environmental assessment does not adequately cover the new proposed action, another EIS or environmental assessment would have to be prepared that would either result in a finding of “no significant impact” or a requirement to prepare further NEPA documentation (40 CFR Section 1502.9(c)(1)). Preparing this documentation could delay munitions disposal if hydrolysate storage fills before hydrolysate can be shipped, resulting in a slowdown or halt to plant operations.
The importance of addressing the potential for offsite shipment in the BGCAPP environmental documentation is shown by the court case The Sierra Club et al. v. Dr. Robert M. Gates, Secretary of Defense, et al., brought in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Indiana, Terre Haute Division. The plaintiffs in this case wanted to stop the government from continuing the shipment of VX hydrolysate from the Newport Chemical Agent Disposal Facility (NECDF) to Veolia’s incineration facility in Port Arthur, Texas. The court ruled that the FEIS and Record of Decision for its Chemical Stockpile Disposal Program indicated that a site-specific NEPA review, including the preparation of either an EIS or an environmental assessment, would be conducted for each chemical stockpile storage location.
The court found that the 1998 FEIS for the pilot test of its VX neutralization plan at NECDF evaluated two alternatives: (1) take no action, and (2) use the proposed process. In response to NRC studies and the September 11, 2001, attacks, the Army published its Final Environmental Assessment in July 2002 considering the VX destruction process at NECDF (ORNL, 2002). In that assessment, the Army compared two alternatives: (1) taking no action and (2) disposing of the hydrolysate at an offsite TSDF. The assessment made no findings concerning a specific TSDF. Rather, it suggested that the appropriate analysis would be performed after a TSDF had been chosen to dispose of the hydrolysate. The Army issued a Final Finding of No Significant Impact on October 28, 2002 (CMA, 2002).
After performing a detailed analysis and engaging in discussions with the Veolia facility, EPA approved the offsite treatment option in 2006. The Army issued a record of environmental consideration (REC) in April 2007 for the proposed shipment of caustic wastewater (i.e., VX hydrolysate) to the Veolia facility and found that the proposed action qualified for a categorical exclusion the Army has for the routine management of hazardous materials or operations involving hazardous waste.29 The Army used the existing NEPA documentation, including previous FEIS and Final Environmental Assessment documents, to support the REC it had issued in April 2007. The Army then issued another REC in June 2007 in response to a letter from the plaintiffs about the safety and environmental impacts of the proposed shipment of VX hydrolysate. The Army used the same rationale for not performing an EIS or environmental assessment as was used in the earlier REC—that is, that the VX hydrolysate was classified as hazardous waste and came under the Army’s categorical exclusion for routine treatment and handling of hazardous waste originating at its facilities.30
In the end, the court ruled that it may not substitute its own judgment for that of an agency. Rather, it must defer to that agency’s factual findings when deciding whether the environmental impacts of its actions are significant. The court agreed with the Army’s contention that it did not need to supplement either its 1998 FEIS or its 2002 Final Environmental Assessment. It also ruled that the Army did
28 It is estimated that BGCAPP can continue to operate the SCWO for a maximum of 1.5 days without the WRS. NRC Request Update, NRC#08, received February 16, 2015.
29 A categorical exclusion is defined as actions that normally do not require an environmental assessment or EIS, and the Army has determined that they do not individually or cumulatively have a substantial effect on the human environment. From Appendix B of 32 CFR Part 651 (AR 100-2), Environmental Analysis of Army Actions.
30 32 CFR 651, Appendix B, § (h)(4). See also Memorandum for U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency Commanders, et al., June 25, 2007, U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency, Guidance for Development of Site-Specific Plans for Shipment of Chemical Agent Contaminated Secondary Waste.
not need to provide an additional comment period when the alternative option was proposed. The court found that the administrative record reflected that the original NEPA documents considered the cases of onsite hydrolysate treatment and the shipment of hydrolysate to a permitted TSDF offsite. The court also found that, because the government had already taken the necessary “hard look” at the nature of the hydrolysate and correctly determined it to be hazardous waste, a secondary decision to switch to another permitted TSDF did not raise the requirement for a supplemental EIS or environmental assessment.31,32
Any permit modification to ship hydrolysates offsite from BGCAPP would require a determination whether BCAPP’s current NEPA documentation is adequate or if supplemental documentation is needed. Unlike the NECDF experience, the BGCAPP NEPA documentation did not include the alternative action for shipping hydrolysates offsite. Therefore, BGCAPP may find it necessary to take a “hard look” at the nature of the hydrolysates and other wastes it will produce and potential impacts of shipping them offsite for disposal. It would then have to determine whether offsite shipment would be covered by the existing NEPA documentation, whether such shipments would come under the categorical exclusion, or if it would be necessary to generate supplemental NEPA documentation in support of offsite shipment.
Finding 4-6. If the supercritical water oxidation and water recovery systems underperform, or fail to perform, to the extent that consideration of offsite disposal becomes necessary, it may also be necessary to conduct environmental analyses under the National Environmental Policy Act. This has the potential to significantly delay offsite shipment.
Recommendation 4-9. BGCAPP project management should begin immediately to determine whether its current NEPA documentation is adequate to support offsite hydrolysate or other waste shipment or if new documentation is needed. This documentation could possibly include a new Final Environmental Assessment, a new Final Environmental Impact Statement, or a document to support categorical exclusion if one applies. This determination should be completed while BGCAPP is still operating under its RCRA RD&D permit. BGCAPP management should also determine how much time would be required to prepare any new NEPA documentation required and pre-file it.
As indicated in Chapter 1, the United States is a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which is overseen by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Under the CWC, BGCAPP is subject to onsite monitoring by representatives of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. In the United States, the treaty is administered through the U.S. Department of State. Destruction, under the CWC, is the process by which chemicals are converted in an essentially irreversible way to a form unsuitable for production of chemical weapons and which irreversibly renders munitions and other devices unusable as such.
In addition to GB and VX, the CWC also monitors compounds listed on CWC Schedules 1 and 2. These compounds include dual-use chemicals that have legitimate industrial uses but can also be used to manufacture chemical agents or their precursors. Schedules 1 and 2 chemicals may be present in hydrolysate as breakdown products of the chemical agents, as discussed in Chapter 2.
VX hydrolysate may contain EA 2192, which is a Schedule 1A chemical. Thus, EA2192 may be present in the VX hydrolysate fed to SCWO. BGCAPP plans to take samples from neutralization batches of VX agent hydrolysate, and VX-associated energetics hydrolysate will be collected and analyzed by the onsite laboratory to ensure batches meet the clearance requirement for EA2192, currently anticipated to be 2.3 ppm, prior to release of the batch from the Munitions Demilitarization Building.
In addition, some of the phosphorus-containing byproducts in hydrolysates are considered to be Schedule 2 compounds and must be irreversibly destroyed to meet the requirement of the CWC. In VX hydrolysate, these compounds include ethyl methyl phosphonic acid (EMPA), methyl phosphonic acid (MPA), and O-ethyl methyl phosphonothioic acid (EMPSH). In GB hydrolysate, isopropyl methyl phosphonic acid (IMPA) and MPA are Schedule 2 compounds. Note that organic acids are present in the caustic hydrolysate solutions as their conjugate bases. Other organophosphorus compounds may be present as well due to impurities introduced during agent production and miscellaneous degradation reactions during storage.33
Finding 4-7. The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) requires that all destruction facilities are subject to certain declaration, reporting, and inspection requirements and verification of full destruction. Destruction means a process by which chemicals are converted in an essentially irreversible way to a form unsuitable for production of chemical weapons, and the CWC requires that the destruction process must be verifiable.
31 Courts consistently have held that, at a minimum, NEPA imposes a duty on federal agencies to take a “hard look at environmental consequences” (Natural Resources Defense Council v. Morton, 458 F.2d 827, 838 (D.C. Cir., 1972)).
32 The Army switched from shipping to the DuPont treatment facility in Deepwater, New Jersey, to shipping to the Veolia incinerator facility in Port Arthur, Texas.
Finding 4-8. Shipment of hydrolysate containing EA2192, a Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) Schedule 1A chemical, and Schedule 2 chemicals may require verification under the CWC of full destruction.
Recommendation 4-10. During systemization testing with hydrolysate surrogates, BGCAPP project management should work with the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons as necessary to demonstrate that the BGCAPP is effective in treating hydrolysates such that any shipments to offsite disposal facilities will have met all CWC requirements.
DEP (Department for Environmental Protection). 2005. Standards for Owners and Operators of Hazardous Waste Storage, Treatment and Disposal Facilities. Title 401, Chapter 34 of the Kentucky Administrative Regulations (KAR). http://www.lrc.ky.gov/kar/title401.htm.
Bizzigotti, G.O., M.A. Berger, T.C. Cain, D.J. Cleaves, C. Gomolka, E.W. Hughitt, D.M. Ligon, P.K. McDonald, R.P. Rhoads, and A.R. Wusterbarth. 2006. Analysis of Off-Site Treatment of Hydrolysates from Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plants. Mitretek Report MTR 2006-22, October. Falls Church, Va.: Mitretek Systems.
NRC (National Research Council). 2008. Review of Secondary Waste Disposal Planning for the Blue Grass and Pueblo Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plants. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.
ORNL (Oak Ridge National Laboratory). 2002. Final Environmental Assessment Accelerated Neutralization of Chemical Agent and Off-Site Shipment of Liquid Process Effluents at the Newport Chemical Agent Disposal Facility. Oak Ridge, Tenn.
CMA (U.S. Army Chemical Materials Activity). 2002. Draft Revised Final Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), Accelerated Neutralization of Chemical Agent and Off-Site Shipment of Liquid Process Effluents at the Newport Chemical Agent Disposal Facility. www.pmcd.army.mil/fndocumentviewer.aspx?DocID=003675301.