CBARR preps for field work at Redstone Arsenal
Utilizing state-of-the-art analytical instrumentation capable of 24-hour operation, CBARR's deployable laboratory services and mobile analytic platforms will monitor for chemical warfare agents as well as their breakdown products.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- Known for supporting remediation activities at former defense sites, the Chemical Biological Application and Risk Reduction Business Unit of the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center is now turning its focus to supporting an active installation. The Redstone Arsenal in Alabama is the site where 17 suspected chemical warfare burial sites will be investigated. These sites date back to the end of World War II when chemical weapons were drained, burned or buried in trenches.

"The big one that we're chasing now is Redstone. This could be the monster of all clean-up projects," said John Ditillo, CBARR chemist. "The initial field work will begin later this month and last for approximately 30 days. But the overall, large-scale clean-up effort at Redstone has been projected to last 25 years."

The long-term remediation effort is expected to be divided into small manageable tasks and CBARR's supporting role begins with this first phase of sample monitoring. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Huntsville, Ala. where the arsenal is located, sought CBARR's expertise in providing chemical and biological solutions to conduct air monitoring and laboratory sample analysis of approximately 135 sediment and water samples that will be screened onsite and then shipped to ECBC, whose headquarters is located at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., for a more thorough analysis.

Utilizing state-of-the-art analytical instrumentation capable of 24-hour operation, CBARR's deployable laboratory services and mobile analytic platforms will monitor for chemical warfare agents as well as their breakdown products.

Without a permanent presence in Huntsville, CBARR relies on laboratory analysis at APG or labs located at Pine Bluff Arsenal in Arkansas, which requires the long-distance shipping of samples. The shipment of these samples to APG or PBA require timely coordination efforts with commercial laboratories that receive the corresponding split samples for the final hazardous waste analysis.

"Soil samples that require shipment off site must first be cleared by headspace analysis to ensure that they are safe for transport. Once cleared, the samples are put in coolers and sent by commercial courier to be analyzed at the CBARR laboratories at APG or PBA," explained Ditillo. "Our analysis must be completed within 24 to 48 hours so that the corresponding split can be sent to the commercial laboratory. They can't touch it until we clear it, and they have specific hold time requirements that cannot be exceeded. All of this requires careful coordination."

CBARR has a history of supporting the COE in the remediation of formerly used defense sites, including locations in Florida, Oklahoma, Hawaii, New Jersey, Kansas, Guam, the Virgin Islands and Washington, D.C. Active installations, disposal sites and former CB process facilities are also places where CBARR has provided CB analysis of environmental samples.

"We've been very busy the last couple of years and there's very few people who can do this kind of work," Ditillo said.

Built in 1941, Redstone Arse produced conventional chemical ammunition such as small arms and light weapons for the Warfighter until demilitarization efforts called for a reduction of surplus munitions through proper CB remediation processes. Redstone Arsenal covers 38,125 acres of land in the middle Tennessee River valley and employs more than 35,000 people, including active duty military personnel, government civilians and contractors. Today, it serves as the headquarters for the U.S. Army Material Command as well as the Aviation and Missile Command.

Page last updated Tue April 30th, 2013 at 00:00