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Analysis of Engineering Design Studies for Demilitarization of Assembled Chemical Weapons at Pueblo Chemical Depot
munitions containing both chemical agent and energetic materials (i.e., assembled chemical weapons) are stored, incineration is still the planned approach for destruction. In late 1996, however, Congress enacted Public Law 104–201, which instructed DOD to “conduct an assessment of the chemical demilitarization program for destruction of assembled chemical munitions and of the alternative demilitarization technologies and processes (other than incineration) that could be used for the destruction of the lethal chemical agents that are associated with these munitions.”
Another law, Public Law 104–208, required a new program manager (the Program Manager for Assembled Chemical Weapons Assessment) to “identify and demonstrate not less than two alternatives to the baseline incineration process for the demilitarization of assembled chemical munitions.” In addition, the law prohibited any obligation of funds for the construction of incineration facilities at two storage sites—Lexington/Blue Grass, Kentucky, and Pueblo, Colorado—until the demonstrations were completed and an assessment of the results had been submitted to Congress by DOD.
As a result of Public Laws 104–201 and 104–208, DOD created the Assembled Chemical Weapons Assessment (ACWA) program. To ensure public involvement in the program, the PMACWA enlisted the Keystone Center—a nonprofit, neutral facilitation organization—to convene a diverse group of interested stakeholders, called the Dialogue on ACWA (or, simply, the Dialogue), who would be intimately involved in all phases of the program. The 35 members of the Dialogue include representatives of the affected communities, national citizen groups such as the Sierra Club, state regulatory agencies, affected Native American tribes, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and DOD.
The PMACWA established an elaborate program for evaluating and selecting technologies that would be appropriate for destroying the stockpile at Pueblo Chemical Depot and Blue Grass Chemical Depot. The selection process is described in detail in the 1999 NRC report Review and Evaluation of Alternative Technologies for the Demilitarization of Assembled Chemical Weapons. Six technology packages were originally considered for the demonstration tests. Three of these technologies underwent demonstration testing in the first round (Demonstration I) and two technology packages survived as candidates for the destruction of chemical weapons at the Pueblo Chemical Depot: those of General Atomics and Parsons/Honeywell. In Public Law 105–261 (1999), Congress mandated as follows: “The program manager for the Assembled Chemical Weapons Assessment shall continue to manage the development and testing (including demonstration and pilot-scale testing) of technologies for the destruction of lethal chemical munitions that are potential or demonstrated alternatives to the baseline incineration program.” It also directed that the Army continue its coordination with the NRC. The PMACWA subsequently initiated EDSs for the two technologies that successfully completed demonstration testing. The purpose of this EDS phase is to (1) support the development of a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a pilot facility; (2) support the certification decision of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology, as directed by Public Law 105–261; and (3) support documentation required for the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the data required for a permit under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Each EDS comprises two parts: an engineering design package (EDP) and the results of experimental studies conducted to generate required data that were not obtained during the demonstration test phase.
In response to Public Law 104–201, which required that DOD coordinate its efforts with the NRC in assessing alternatives to incineration, PMACWA asked the NRC to evaluate each of the seven technologies that had passed DOD’s initial screening. The ACW I Committee published its report in August 1999. That report found that the primary treatment processes could decompose the chemical agents with destruction efficiencies of 99.9999. However, major concerns for each technology package remained, including the adequacy of secondary treatment of agent hydrolysates and the primary and secondary treatment of energetic materials contained in the chemical weapons. A supplemental report, requested by the PMACWA to evaluate the actual demonstration tests for the three technologies that were considered to warrant further investigation, was published in February 2000. Two of the technologies, those of General Atomics and Parsons/Honeywell, were considered ready to proceed to an engineering design phase. Upon completion of the supplemental report, the ACW I Committee was dissolved. Subsequently, under the continuing mandate from Congress, the PMACWA requested that the NRC form a second committee (the ACW II Committee) to evaluate the EDPs and related tests for the engineering design studies for the Pueblo and Blue Grass Depots and to examine and evaluate the Demonstration II tests of three additional technologies.
STATEMENT OF TASK
The statement of task for the NRC ACW II Committee is shown below. The present report is the committee’s response to Task 2 and will be produced in time to contribute to the ROD by the Office of the Secretary of Defense on a technology selection for the Pueblo site. The latter will occur following satisfaction of NEPA requirements.
At the request of the DoD’s Program Manager for Assembled Chemical Weapons Assessment (PMACWA), the NRC Committee on Review and Evaluation of Alternative Technologies for Demilitarization of Assembled Chemical Weapons will provide independent scientific and technical assessment of the Assembled Chemical Weapons Assessment (ACWA) program. This effort will be divided into three tasks. In each case, the NRC was asked to perform a techni-