Madison County

X-rays of mustard projectiles completed at Blue Grass Army Depot

RICHMOND — The X-raying of a random sample of mustard projectiles was completed Tuesday at Blue Grass Army Depot in Madison County.

The results of that X-raying, to be made public later this year, will be used to evaluate and determine whether the rounds should be exploded inside steel vessels called detonation chambers at some later date.

The completion of the X-ray assessment was announced at Tuesday's meeting of the Chemical Demilitarization Citizens' Advisory Commission and the Chemical Destruction Community Advisory Board, two groups that meet quarterly to discuss the progress of the plan to destroy chemical weapons at the depot.

As suspected, the normally liquid mustard agent inside the 60-year-old shells appears to have solidified into a gel or tarlike consistency, said Jeff Brubaker, site project manager for the pilot plant that will destroy chemical weapons. If the mustard agent can't be drained it could pose a greater risk to workers in the destruction process, hence the proposal to explode the shells within detonation chambers.

The X-raying involved 96 of the 15,400 mustard rounds stored at the depot. Each round was overpacked, or put into a leakproof container, and then moved to the igloo where they were X-rayed.

Eight of the 96 rounds were re-imaged Tuesday, to be sure "that they had a good, clear image," Brubaker said.

The data will be analyzed and information about the results will be distributed at the next quarterly meeting on Sept. 13, Brubaker said.