DESERET CHEMICAL DEPOT, STOCKTON, UT - Workers at the U.S. Army's Tooele Chemical Agent Disposal Facility today began using the new Heel Transfer System process to help remove solidified mustard agent residue in bulk containers at Deseret Chemical Depot.

Nearly all of the approximately 3,000 remaining mustard agent-filled bulk containers at DCD have varying amounts of heavy solid and semi-solid residue referred to as "heels" and are unable to be drained for normal processing and disposal.

An extensive sampling and measurement operation indicated that these heavy heels range in size and weigh anywhere between 630 and 1,100 pounds. Utah environmental permit requirements, however, limit heel weight to no more than 630 pounds for processing through the TOCDF Metal Parts Furnace.

The HTS, which was added as a follow-on to the TOCDF Bulk Drain System, uses high-pressure sprays of warm water to liquefy the solid and semi-solid residue allowing a portion of the liquefied heel material to be pumped from the "heavy" bulk container into an empty one. By ensuring all bulk container heel weights are below 630 pounds, they can then be processed through the MPF.

Bulk containers and munitions known to have elevated levels of mercury will not be processed until at least 2010, contingent upon state regulatory approval of a special mercury-capturing filter system currently under construction at the TOCDF.

The U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency with headquarters at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., stores the nation's aging chemical weapons and develops programs aimed at effectively treating and ultimately eliminating chemical warfare materiel.