The Richmond Register

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March 26, 2009

Depot’s weapons disposal plant a work in progress

The construction of the chemical weapons disposal plant at the Blue Grass Army Depot has come a long way, but still has a long way to go, according to acting site project manager Ralph Collins.

He gave a construction progress update Wednesday to the Richmond Rotary Club and explained why building the facilities needed would be such a time-consuming process.

“We’re only about 10 or 15 percent finished with construction,” he said. “We’ve done a lot of the easy stuff first. It’s just the way the money flowed and the timing of the completion of the (plant) design.”

The facilities included in the Blue Grass Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant are being constructed to destroy the 500 tons of blister agent in projectiles and nerve agent in projectiles and M55 rockets.

The aging munitions have resulted in slight vapor leaks in the past and most recently, a nerve-agent-filled steel holding container leaked because of metal corrosion.

Although the weapons have been stored there from the 1940s on, the path to weapons destruction has by no means taken the fast track.

There is still about two years worth of concrete to pour, “and we just started that this spring,” Collins said.

Approximately 93 percent of the plant’s design is completed.

At the moment, about 200 workers (mostly hired locally) are installing underground utilities, fire water system storage tanks, completing the control support building foundation as well as the foundation for the munitions demilitarization building “non-blast” area.

The weapons will be detonated in a room with a 34- to 42-inch concrete foundation and 25-inch-thick walls, Collins said.

Wednesday’s presentation was an effort to explain the complexity of the buildings to be constructed and why it is going to take about four more years to finish site construction.

Of course, the major factor in completion relies on money from the federal government.

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