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Hotline Allegation of a Safety Violation at Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant

DODIG-2018-118

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Objective:

We conducted this evaluation to determine whether the Program Executive Office (PEO) for Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives (ACWA) complied with safety standards at the Blue Grass Army Depot (BGAD) in Richmond, Kentucky. Specifically, we evaluated an allegation to the Defense Hotline that the PEO ACWA did not correctly define the hazardous area that surrounds the Explosive Destruction Technology (EDT) facility.

Background:

The PEO ACWA is responsible for managing the destruction of chemical weapons stockpiled at the BGAD. Bechtel Parsons, Inc. is the primary contractor for designing, constructing, and operating the BGAD Blue Grass Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant (BGCAPP). The contract directed Bechtel Parsons, Inc. to destroy the stockpile of mustard H chemical weapons stored at the BGAD in accordance with Federal, State, and local laws, codes, and regulations. Bechtel Parsons, Inc. uses EDT as the approved chemical weapon destruction method. The EDT facility is a section of the BGCAPP that has a building for destroying chemical weapons.

DoD Manual 6055.09-M, Volume 6, “Ammunition and Explosives Safety Standards for protecting personnel and the general public from harmful effects of toxic chemical agents. DoD Manual 6055.09-M requires that a hazardous area be determined based on the chemical and explosive properties of the weapon.

Finding:

We determined that the PEO ACWA correctly defined the EDT facility’s hazardous area. Although the Bechtel Parsons, Inc. contract directed Bechtel Parsons, Inc. to destroy the stockpile of mustard H chemical weapons at the BGAD, the PEO ACWA used mustard HD when it determined the EDT facility’s hazardous area.

DoD Manual 6055.09-M, volume 6, establishes identical safety standards for H and HD due to their similar chemical properties. Therefore, the EDT facility’s hazardous area is the same for H and HD. As a result, we did not substantiate the allegation.

Management Comments:

We provided a draft report to PEO ACWA for review and comment. We considered management comments to the draft of this report and included where appropriate when preparing the final report.