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February 20, 2009

A foundation for destruction

Construction workers at the Blue Grass Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant (BGCAPP) achieved another milestone recently, as they completed the first major concrete placement for the Munitions Demilitarization Building (MDB).

After delays caused by cold weather and an ice storm, placement of more than 300 cubic yards of concrete was completed Feb. 7, according to Terry Stroschein, BGCAPP resident engineer, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He said this represents the first substantial concrete placement work on the main processing building for the plant.

The 87,000-square-foot MDB is the facility where the chemical weapons will be disassembled, explosives removed and the agent neutralized. Moreover, this is the first time a facility will be constructed to neutralize GB and VX chemical agents that are contained in rocket munitions, according to Ralph Collins, the Army’s acting site project manager.

“This placement is a critical part of the project,” said Collins. “Each placement of concrete occurs in sections which contain substantial reinforcing for strength. The building is huge and its foundation consists of many separate concrete placements. Because of delays in getting design approval for the explosive containment areas, we have started with the non-explosive areas. When you include the work to complete the vertical walls of the explosive containment area, it will take us nearly two years to complete the entire concrete placement effort.”

Up until Feb. 7, the completed buildings on the site included auxiliary support structures for personnel and maintenance, said Gary Cough, Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass site construction manager.

“The weather has been a factor for us,” he said. “When it is below freezing, we have safety concerns for our workers, such as potential cold-weather injuries. The batch plant (concrete supplier) can’t supply us if it is below 15 degrees Fahrenheit. We have to wait for the temperature to rise to above 15 degrees.”

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