Study shows Blue Grass Depot's mustard gas should be exploded

While a final decision has not yet been reached, preliminary information suggests that more than 15,000 mustard rounds at the Blue Grass Army Depot in Richmond, Ky. should be exploded inside steel detonation chambers.
The alternative plan to destroy the rounds under a pilot plant under construction in Madison County, Ky., may not be feasible because 85 percent of the rounds tested had at least a 30 percent solidification of mustard agent, or "heel." The presence of heel in the 155 millimeter mustard shells has led to complications and delays in other chemical disposal facilities across the country, reports.
The data presented Tuesday will not alter construction plans for the pilot plan because more than 85 percent of the Blue Grass stockpile contains agents other than mustard.
"The preliminary data shows that the mustard rounds are in a condition that is very likely to require an alternative approach to the main facility," Craig Williams, the director of the Chemical Weapons Working Group, a watchdog organization based in Berea, Ky., said, according to "We have a little further way to go to make that determination."
The pilot plant will employ a "fully automated process" using machines and robots designed to destroy the weapons, but the presence of heel complicates the process, increasing the likelihood that workers would have to deal with problems manually. Minimizing the contact of workers with chemical agents is a high priority.

Army officials suggested the use of explosive destruction technologies, which would not require that the munitions be disassembled. The Army has said that it could potentially save eight months of destruction time at the pilot plant if all the mustard rounds are destroyed by detonation in fixed steel chambers. The chemical depot in Anniston, Ala., has already destroyed 2,500 mustard rounds using EDT.
The destruction of weapons at Blue Grass will start in 2018, according to a previously released timeline, with the completion of the project slated for 2021.