Blue Grass Chemcial Agent Destruction plant makes steps towards opening

A 520 ton chemical weapons stockpile in Richmond, Kentucky, is one step closer to destruction with the recent completion of a fire water pump house at the Blue Grass Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant.

The fire water pump house is the first disposal building to be declared operational at the plant, though chemical agents have been stored at the site since the 1960s, according to

The Richmond plant is one of nine chemical agent destruction projects in the country. Four have been finished, three are currently destroying chemical agents and one facility in Pueblo, Colorado, is still in the construction phase.

According to site project manager Jim Brubaker, the stored agents degrade over time, creating a chance of a leak developing, reports. This makes their disposal a necessary and increasingly urgent task.

The new pump house will provide process water for the disposal system, as well as water to suppress fire, should that need ever arise. The structure consists of a pumping system and two 250,000 gallon water tanks.

"We always are working on safety," Tom McKinney, a project manager with Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass, said, reports. "We take safety very seriously here."

Construction at the plant is scheduled to be finished in 2016, and disposal is set to begin in 2018. The process should be completed fully by 2021. Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass is responsible for both the construction of the facility and its operation.

The weapons will be destroyed using a process called supercritical water oxidation that breaks the compounds down into carbon dioxide, water and salts.

"We are doing things here that have gained national attention," McKinney said, according to "In that case, it's a very important project."