Bechtel recently announced that the final munition in the United States stockpile of chemical weapons has been safely destroyed at the Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant (BGCAPP) in Kentucky. The end of destruction at Blue Grass completes the United States’ commitment to destroy its stockpile of chemical weapons before September 30, 2023 as a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention treaty ratified in 1997.
The Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass team was awarded the contract to design, build, and operate BGCAPP in 2003 by the Program Executive Office, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives. Construction of the first-of-a-kind facility was completed in 2015 at the Blue Grass Army Depot with weapon destruction following plant systemization and comprehensive testing.
The chemical weapons stockpile at the depot originally consisted of 523 U.S. tons of chemical agent configured in 155mm projectiles containing mustard and VX nerve agent, 8-inch projectiles containing GB nerve agent, and M55 rockets containing GB and VX nerve agent. Beginning in 2019, destruction took place around the clock at BGCAPP and continued without interruption during the 2020-2023 global health emergency of COVID-19. This effort allowed the United States to fulfill its commitment to the Chemical Weapons Convention treaty.
“I am so proud of my Bechtel colleagues who with hard work, spirit, and ingenuity, delivered a monumental feat for the country and its allies,” said John Howanitz, president of Bechtel’s Nuclear, Security and Environmental business. “With this achievement, Bechtel has now safely eliminated nearly 5,000 tons of chemical weapon rockets, artillery rounds, mortar shells, and storage canisters at four of the nine original U.S. storage sites in Kentucky, Colorado, Maryland, and Alabama.”
“The safety record of the Blue Grass plant is nothing short of remarkable. The team safely finished every munition campaign, successfully completing our mission ahead of the September 30, 2023, treaty deadline,” said Michael Costas, general manager, Bechtel Defense & Space.
“Bechtel is honored to have supported the local community, the United States, and its allies around the world to achieve this important milestone.”
BGCAPP now turns its attention to safely closing the plant. A multi-year effort, the team will begin with decontamination and dismantling equipment within areas of the plant that have come into contact with the chemical agent. The disposition for the remainder of the plant has not yet been determined.
“The credit goes to our workforce team members, who followed procedures and did what was necessary to safely and compliantly destroy these munitions,” said Ron Hink, Bechtel Blue Grass Project Manager.
“Now our team will turn their focus to safely closing the plant, leaving the community better than we found it.”
Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass workers celebrate the last rocket destroyed at the Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant on July 7, 2023 in Kentucky.
BGCAPP was built and operated under contract to the U.S. Department of Defense’s Program Executive Office, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives. Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass is a joint venture of Bechtel National Inc. and Parsons Government Services Inc. Since the 1980s, Bechtel has had an active role in U.S. and international efforts to eliminate chemical weapons.