The Richmond Register

September 10, 2013

Weapons disposal plant more than 72 percent complete

By Seth Littrell
Register News Writer

RICHMOND — Construction of the chemical agent destruction plant at the Blue Grass Army Depot is more than 72 percent complete.

Jeff Brubaker, the government’s manager for the project gave that update at Tuesday’s quarterly meeting of the Chemical Destruction Community Advisory Board.

The project has advanced to the point that systemization, the installation of technology that will help the plant operate, can be begin, Brubaker said, and that process is about 10 percent complete.

Once construction and systemization processes are finished, plant workers can begin operational tests of the facility to ensure everything runs smoothly, he added.

The project’s biggest change, Brubaker said, involved the manpower at the plant. With construction crews finishing portions of the facility, a number of specialized contractors, such as 200 electricians and 150 pipe-fitters, will be brought in for finishing touches.

Brubaker said the new contractors will affect the demographics of the plant’s current workforce. Specifically, many of them had to be brought in from out of state, rather than hired locally, he said, because of the sheer number of people needed.

In other construction news, Brubaker said workers have finished building five supercritical water oxidation tanks, which will dilute the hydrolysate produced as chemical agents are neutralized.

In other business, the board:

• Heard an update on explosive destruction technology from CDCAB Co-Chair Craig Williams. He said the federal government had not yet made a decision on whether EDT could be used at the plant, but the technology options had been narrowed to the DAVINCH and SDC systems, previously reported on in the Register. If approved, Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass, the company that is contructing and will manage the plant, would which method to use.

• Williams gave an overview of Phase 1 of the three-part study CDCAB completed designed to find new jobs and a use for the plant's site after the chemical weapons are destroyed.

• Williams also recapped the visit of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to tour the plant in August. Williams proposed the board send McConnell a letter expressing appreciation for the assistance he has given CDCAB in the past. However, some board members raised concerns that such a letter may be seen as an endorsement from the non-partisan group. The decision was tabled until a consensus could be achieved.

Seth Littrell can be reached at slittrell@richmondregister.com or 624-6623.