House, Senate agree on chemical weapons destruction funding

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Secure Igloo that contains M55 rockets at BGCAA.
Secure Igloo that contains M55 rockets at BGCAA.

With Construction 82 percent complete at BGCAPP more good news was received this week. Both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate have agreed to spend nearly $596 million in the coming year on programs to destroy chemical weapons stored at the Blue Grass Army Depot and at Pueblo, Colo.

Craig Williams, co-chair of the Chemical Demilitarization Citizen’s Advisory Board, delivered that news to the panel Wednesday at its quarterly meeting. Chemical weapons at the both Kentucky and Colorado depots will be demilitarized by neutralization.

While both houses of Congress agree on the chemical weapons destruction funding, the money is included in a larger funding measure on which the two bodies may disagree, Williams said when asked after the meeting.

Both pieces of legislation, however, contain identical language in regard to the Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternative program, Williams pointed out, saying he is encouraged the full amount eventually will be approved.

Also, at Wednesday’s meeting, Jeff Brubaker, the government’s ACWA project manager at BGAD, announced that construction of the multi-billion dollar plant is 82 percent complete. Systemization efforts have already begun and have reached the 18-percent milestone.

Lt. Col. Christopher Grice, commander of the depot’s chemical activity, reported that 42 of 44 sample nerve-agent rockets were successfully unpacked from their storage tubes in May and propellant samples from 23 of them will be tested for stability. The rockets came from all 19 of the activity’s storage lots, he said.

Two rockets that could not be unpacked were overpacked and put in storage with other problematic munitions, Grice said.

The tests are conducted every 10 years, Williams said after the meeting, and difficulty unpacking them will not be a problem when they are eventually fed into the automated destruction plant.

Tuesday’s CDCAB meeting was the last for Grice because his two-year term at BGAD will be complete next month, and he will be moving to new assignment.

Also, Williams and Grice both paid tribute to Dr. J. Robert Miller, a longtime CDCAB member who died June 4 after a brief illness. Both had attended his memorial service earlier in the day, they said.

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