Building E3300 — the former Amos A. Fries Research Laboratory — during its demolition as part of APG South facility reduction program.
Building E3300 — the former Amos A. Fries Research Laboratory — during its demolition as part of APG South facility reduction program. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. –Those who haven’t made a visit to APG South (Edgewood) in a while may notice some stark differences in the landscape. Buildings that had been fixtures on the installation, some dating back to as early as APG’s beginnings, will no longer be there, as a result of a contaminated demolition program that has made progress in recent years.

The program, unique to the Department of Defense, will ultimately reduce the number of buildings and slabs on the installation by 63 and posture APG for future growth by eliminating unusable facilities within the installation’s footprint. Work began in 2018 and it’s expected to take about a decade to complete.

The work is being delivered by the APG Directorate of Public Works, the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Chemical Biological Center’s Chemical Biological Application and Risk Reduction team, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

What makes the program unique is not the buildings themselves, but what has been inside them. During the lifespans of these buildings, they have housed chemical, biological, and radiological materials, as well as, in one building, white phosphorus, which can ignite once its exposed to air, said Rurik Loder, an environmental engineer at DPW.

As a result, careful examination and decommissioning by CBARR must happen prior to a demolition by USACE. These specialized teams have expertise with the potential contaminants in question.

“No one really knows what the risks are in taking these buildings down, so we cannot use normal procedures to do it,” said Loder.

The decommissioning and demolition process has three steps: In the first step, or decommissioning, the team removes and cleans anything that may have touched a chemical or biological agent.

“When we’re finished with it, it’s basically a stripped building,” Loder said. “All you see is just stripped walls.”

Once the building is certified as safe and clean, it is taken down to the slab. After that, below-grade demolition, or slab removal, takes place.

The decommissioning and demolition process on the 63 sites is being executed over three contract groupings. In the first grouping — which contains 19 buildings and one slab primarily in the E3200 and E3300 blocks of APG South — decommissioning is completed on all but one building, above-grade demolition is complete at 14 of 19 buildings and below-grade demolition is expected to begin in July.

A recent milestone of the project was the completion of building E3300 — the former Amos A. Fries Research Laboratory — which tested chemical and biological warfare agents, Loder said.

Decommissioning is underway for the second group of sites to be demolished, which contains eight buildings and 23 slabs. A contract for demolition work is expected to be awarded in the current fiscal year. A contract for demolition work on the third group of sites, which contains 11 buildings and one slab, is scheduled to be awarded in fiscal 2023.

“It’s a long-term program,” said Loder. “We’re taking it nibbles at a time and we’re doing it safely.”

When the demolitions are complete, the newly unoccupied space can be used to the military’s liking, which could be advantageous to APG, according to the APG Garrison Commander, Col. Timothy Druell.

“There’s opportunity for the future of APG South that wasn’t there before,” he said. “As land opens up, opportunities for the Army strategically to build future [Military Construction] projects and advance the landscape the way we want it to be.”

As the various phases of demolition work are being executed, there are occasions where road closures are required to either accommodate public safety zones or construction traffic. These closures are closely coordinated with the Garrison and public notices are provided.

If you have any questions about the program, call APG DPW at 410-306-2250.