Several Madison County businesses and contractors have been the first choice to assist with the construction of the Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant being built at the Blue Grass Army Depot.

An August status briefing noted that 69 percent of all work related to the construction has been given to Madison County businesses, and totals $24,070,858 of the project cost to date.

Businesses located outside the state have received 28 percent of work done to date ($9,709,685) and the remaining 3 percent has gone to Kentucky businesses outside the local area ($1,098,944).

The Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass Team and Parsons Infrastructure and Technology Group, along with partners Washington Demilitarization Company, Battelle Memorial Institute, General Atomics and General Physics, is the systems contractor in charge of designing, building, systemizing, pilot testing, operating and closing the facility.

The 69,000 square-foot facility will be used to destroy the 523 tons of chemical agent that has been stored inside rockets and artillery projectiles since the early 1940s.

Destruction operations at the facility are scheduled to begin in 2017 and be finished by 2023. The facility will be closed in 2027, according to AWCA cost/schedule information released in April.

“That schedule could change depending on annual funding,” said John Schlatter, public communications manager for Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass. “While it’s difficult to give exact dates, the construction will last another 8 to 10 years, and initial hiring for the operating work force is still at least five to six years off. Hiring of construction workers will, of course, be ongoing.”

Phase 1 of the construction included a 1.8 mile access road, site preparation and rough grading.

Phase 2A includes roadway concrete and ACB potable water and sewer (100 percent complete); perimeter fencing (100 percent complete); electrical and communication lines (65 percent complete); access control building constriction (79 percent complete); and an active security vehicle barrier (70 percent complete).

The next two phases will include a main power substation and the installation of concrete material including rebar, embeds and formwork.

“We’ve come a long way since last October when elected officials, community leaders, regulators, and other stakeholders joined us for a groundbreaking ceremony,” said Jim Fritsche, site project manager for Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives. “With their support, we continue to move the project forward.”

Mark Seely, project manager for Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass, said the construction has progressed quickly, “but most importantly, we’ve done it safely,” he said. “Our project team in all locations has worked more than 2 million hours without a lost-time injury.”

The agent-filled rockets and projectiles will be destroyed by a process called “neutralization.” The waste from this process will then be destroyed by a process known as SCWO (Supercritical Water Oxidation).

Neutralization is the chemical decomposition via caustic or water hydrolysis. The waste from this process is called hydrolysate, which will be destroyed by SCWO.

The waste will be subjected to very high temperatures and strong pressure, breaking them down into carbon dioxide, water and salts.

The wooden pallets used to store the rockets and projectiles also will be destroyed with the SCWO process.

The facility’s construction will cost about $2 billion, but using equipment from closing facilities is an option being sought that could save up to $450,000.

The Aberdeen Chemical Agent Disposal Facility has finished its mission of destroying the stockpile in Maryland, and much of the equipment used in that process will be able to be used at the Blue Grass facility.

All equipment from the Aberdeen facility must go through a condition evaluation that will determine if it is suitable to use in the Blue Grass destruction facility.

“The inventory is a wide variety of items,” Schlatter said. “It includes various instruments for measuring heat, light, and vibration, office furniture and cameras and projectors used in training.”

New projects over the next several months will include: Constructing a 28,000-square-foot maintenance building; a 23,000-square-foot, two-story modular office building; a 1,400-square-foot access control building; and a 1,700-square-foot badging facility; installing underground utilities, including storm water drainage, sanitary sewer, electrical duct banks, potable water and natural gas; and installing canopies over the area where vehicles will be inspected by security personnel.

Local citizens have been informed throughout the entire process by way of the Chemical Destruction Community Advisory Board (CDCAB) that meets quarterly at Eastern Kentucky University.

Board members have noted their primary functions as promoting safe and timely weapon destruction, protecting the community and facility workers, encouraging local economic development and sharing information with the community.

The next meeting of the CDCAB is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 11 in rooms A and B of the Perkins Building on Kit Carson Drive.

Visit mil to find summaries of past meetings, learn more about the CDCAB, find contact information for all project partners and dates and times for upcoming events.

Ronica Shannon can be reached at or 623-1669, Ext. 234.

React to this story:


Trending Video

Recommended for you