First nerve agent rockets destroyed at Blue Grass Army Depot

Kentucky

Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant operators place the first M55 rockets containing VX nerve agent on a conveyor to begin the destruction process July 9. This marks the fourth of five destruction campaigns to begin at the Blue Grass Army Depot. (A portion of this photo has been blurred in accordance with Department of Defense guidelines.)(Blue Grass Army Depot)

RICHMOND, Ky. (FOX 56) – The first M55 rockets containing VX nerve agent were destroyed at the Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant (BGCAPP) on July 9.

It marks the fourth of five chemical weapons destruction campaigns to begin at the Blue Grass Army Depot (BGAD).

“Rockets are the most complex munitions in our stockpile,” said Dr. Candace Coyle, BGCAPP site project manager. “We are eager to see this portion of the chemical weapons in Kentucky destroyed. The team is focused and ready to accomplish the mission safely.”

Under the observation of trained operators, automated equipment will disassemble nearly 18,000 rockets and drain the chemical agent.

The agent will be neutralized by mixing it with water and caustic to produce hydrolysate.

After the agent is confirmed destroyed, the hydrolysate will be pumped to holding tanks to be processed later at an off-site disposal facility.

The drained rocket warheads will be containerized and destroyed in a Static Detonation Chamber unit located on the depot.

The rocket motors will be placed on pallets and safely transported to Anniston, Alabama, to be destroyed in a Static Detonation Chamber unit.

Throughout the campaign, the BGCAPP team will work closely with BGAD and Blue Grass Chemical Activity (BGCA) partners to destroy the chemical weapons.

The chemical weapons stockpile at the depot originally consisted of 523 tons of chemical agent configured in 155mm projectiles containing mustard and VX nerve agent, 8-inch projectiles containing GB nerve agent, and M55 rockets containing GB and VX nerve agent.

In June 2019, the BGCAPP team began destroying the mustard stockpile using the Static Detonation Chamber, an explosive destruction technology. The mustard campaign is more than 90% complete.

From January through May 2020, nearly 4,000 8-inch projectiles containing GB nerve agent were destroyed at BGCAPP. From January through May 2021, nearly 13,000 155mm projectiles containing VX nerve agent were destroyed at BGCAPP.

As of July 2, more than 28% of the original 523 tons of chemical agent have been destroyed in Kentucky.

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