June 14, 2012
Construction pause re-emphasizes safety
By Ronica Shannon
Register News Writer
The destruction of chemical weapons at the Blue Grass Army Depot will cost about $5.3 billion and should be complete in the winter of 2023.
The cost figure and new destruction completion date were announced Wednesday by Craig Williams, co-chair of Chemical Destruction Community Advisory Board (CDCAB). The group met Wednesday at Eastern Kentucky University.
Jeff Brubaker, the government’s site project manager for the project, gave a quarterly construction update Wednesday.
Plant construction came to a halt May 3-7 “as a result of an uptick in safety-related incidents,” he said. “The number-one priority on this project is to have every worker depart the project at the end of each day without incident or injury. The project team used the down time to focus and re-concentrate on achieving zero accidents.”
As of May 31, the project has completed 155,666 hours and 45 days without a lost-time accident, according to a report by Tom McKinney, project manager for Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass.
Plant construction is about 51 percent complete with work continuing on several sectors, including the hydrolysate (chemical weapon destruction waste) storage-area foundation, the munitions demilitarization building filter bank, control and support building, utility building, supercritical water oxidation (chosen method of disposal) building and the laboratory building.
Construction of the safe refuge building is complete. It is a over-pressurized shelter for workers in the unlikely case that harmful vapors were released into the air, according to Williams.
Having one location for workers to go is an easier and much more effective form of evacuation rather than having everyone go to their vehicles and then try to exit the grounds, he said.
McKinney gave statistics on the plant’s local economic impact.
To date, $83.5 million has been spent with Kentucky companies and $47.3 million was spent in Madison and surrounding counties. Payroll has constituted $334 million and $476 million more is expected to be paid throughout the completion of the project.
The project has employed 939 people, 863 of whom work in Richmond. Others are employed in conjunction with the project in Washington state, California, Ohio and Maryland.
McKinney also gave an update about the plant’s rocket-cutting machine, which was built to eliminate risk to humans during the rocket-cutting process.
A successful two-year fabrication and testing effort is complete and more than 2,600 mock rockets have been disassembled during testing. All equipment needed for the machine has been shipped to Richmond, McKinney said.
The next CDCAB meeting is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. September 12 in the EKU Perkins Building.
Ronica Shannon can be reached at email@example.com or 624-6608.