ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. (December 22, 2009) - Chemical munitions stockpile
demilitarization operations at the Anniston Chemical Agent Disposal Facility (ANCDF) were
temporarily suspended following an interruption in the robotic disassembly of a mortar tonight.
ANCDF control room employees were monitoring normal operations at 5:30 p.m. when
they noticed a "flash" in one of the facility's two Explosion Containment Rooms (ECR). At the
time of the flash, robotic equipment was removing the explosive fuze and burster from a
mustard-filled 4.2-inch mortar. The routine operation, done for more than 75,500 other
mustard-filled munitions since July, normally includes the separation of the burster from the
nose cone.
Under standard operating procedures, the equipment automatically tries to separate the
burster from the nose cone. According to the site manager, "At this time the rear portion of the
burster flashed. The nose cone assembly appears to be intact."
No one is allowed in the ECR during munition disposal operations there. The "flash" did
not injure anyone. There is no apparent damage to ANCDF equipment. Also notable is that the
flash did not involve any mustard agent.
The ANCDF manager said, "There was no threat to other ANCDF personnel, the depot work
force, or the surrounding community.
"ANCDF disposal operations will not resume until managers and regulators are sure that it
is safe to do so," the manager said.
Since disposal operations began in August 2003, more than 437,300 (66.1 percent) nerve
agent and mustard-filled munitions have been safely processed. Operations have also processed
more than 330,670 gallons (64.8 percent) of liquid nerve and mustard agents. Since July, ANCDF
employees have processed more than 75,500 mustard-filled mortars.