The Blue Grass Chemical Activity (BGCA) environmental team is an integral part of protecting the natural resources on the Blue Grass Army Depot (BGAD). The team enables BGCA’s mission of safely securing, storing and monitoring the chemical weapons stockpile and supporting munitions movement to the Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant (BGCAPP) for destruction.
"The mission of the environmental office is to provide guidance in the area of environmental protection as it pertains to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection regulations and 40 Code of Federal Regulations,” said Allen L. Gilbert, supervisory physical scientist. “We ensure munitions movement and storage meets local, state and federal laws while protecting the community and environment.”
The BGCA is supporting the GB M55 rocket destruction campaign, which is the fifth and final munition type left in BGCA chemical weapons storage. This support entails a myriad of duties, which include proper handling of hazardous waste, routine inspections and training. The environmental team works with chemical operations personnel to inspect and monitor hazardous waste storage sites in BGAD’s chemical area.
“Our hazardous waste coordinator, Rebecca Schwarze, plays a key role in generating and tracking the paperwork to ensure we follow applicable laws and regulations,” said Corey A. Tracy, supervisory chemist. “Her attention to detail is vital to our success in managing waste in accordance with state and federal law.”
Hazardous waste is anything that could have had contact with chemical agent or vapor, such as pallets that held chemical weapons. Other types of hazardous waste include carbon filters, flammable solvents or dunnage. Once hazardous waste is generated, it is placed in a holding area for monitoring. Hold time requirements vary depending on the waste type. After monitoring ends and the waste is cleared, it is labeled, marked and moved to an earth-covered magazine in the chemical area for long term storage. As the host installation, BGAD holds the environmental permits and is involved with labeling and manifesting the waste for movement off depot grounds to an approved facility for disposal.
Training is a foundation of BGCA’s robust environmental compliance program. Each environmental team member is trained in Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response, Title V Air Permitting and Hazard Communication and Pollution Prevention. Team members are also certified by the U.S. Department of Transportation to properly manifest solid wastes before shipping to disposal facilities. Environmental protection specialists conduct RCRA, spill response and routine on-site hazardous waste management training for employees.
Environmental personnel work closely with the Kentucky Division of Waste Management for maximum protection of natural resources near the weapons. As BGCA approaches closure, this working relationship will ensure the final clean closure plan is thorough and complete. Once this plan is approved, BGCA will clean the magazines that housed chemical weapons. This will include sampling and monitoring for chemical agent, metals and polychlorinated biphenyls to confirm RCRA and Toxic Substances Control Act standards are met. When this process is complete, the magazines will be signed over to the BGAD for future use.
The BGCAPP is slated to complete the destruction of the chemical weapons stored at BGAD by Sept. 30, 2023. The BGAD will continue its mission to provide America’s military forces with conventional munitions and chemical defense equipment after the chemical weapons are destroyed.