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Executive Summary The U.S. Army is in the process of destroying the United States' stockpile of aging chemical weapons, which are stored at eight locations in the continental U.S. and on Johnston Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. The deadline for completing the destruction of these weap- ons, as specified by the Chemical Weapons Conven- tion (CWC) international treaty, is April 29,2007. The Army selected incineration as the preferred "baseline" destruction technology and currently has two operating incineration facilities one on Johnston Atoll and an- other at the Deseret Chemical Depot near Tooele, Utah. Because federal law prohibits the cross-country ship- ment of these weapons for disposal, the Army origi- nally planned to construct similar incineration facili ties at the other seven storage sites. However, the incineration process has met with strong public and po- litical opposition. In response to this opposition, "neutralization" pro- cesses (based on the hydrolysis of chemical agent in water or in sodium hydroxide solution) are being de- veloped as the primary treatment for destroying the chemical agents stored in bulk containers at Aberdeen, Maryland, and Newport, Indiana. For the remaining five sites, where weapons are stored that contain both chemical agent and energetic materials (assembled chemical weapons), incineration was still the planned process for destruction. However, in late 1996, Con- gress enacted Public Law 104-201, which instructed the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to "conduct an assessment of the chemical demilitarization program for destruction of assembled chemical munitions and of the alternative demilitarization technologies and pro- cesses (other than incineration) that could be used for the destruction of the lethal chemical agents that are asso- ciated with these munitions." The law required that the assessment be conducted by a program manager not asso- ciated with the Army' s baseline incineration program. Through Public Law 104-208, the new program manager was required to "identify and demonstrate not less than two alternatives to the baseline incineration process for the demilitarization of assembled chemical munitions." In addition, this law prohibited any obliga- tion of funds for the construction of incineration facili- ties at two storage sites Richmond, Kentucky, and Pueblo, Colorado until the demonstrations had been completed and an assessment of the results had been submitted to Congress by DOD. ASSEMBLED CHEMICAL WEAPONS ASSESSMENT PROGRAM As a result of Public Laws 104-201 and 104-208. DOD created the Assembled Chemical Weapons As- sessment (ACWA) program. To ensure public involve- ment in the program, the program manager for ACWA enlisted the Keystone Center a nonprofit, neutral fa- cilitation organization to convene a group of 35 in- terested stakeholders, called the Dialogue on ACWA (or simply the Dialogue), who would be intimately in- volved in all phases of the program. The Dialogue in- cluded representatives of the affected communities, national citizen groups, state regulatory agencies, af- fected Native American tribes, the Environmental Pro- tection Agency, and the DOD. All non-DOD members served as volunteers without remuneration from DOD (although travel expenses were paid by DOD).
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2 ALTERNATIVE TECHNOLOGIES FOR DEMILITARIZATION OF ASSEMBLED CHEMICAL WEAPONS The program manager established a three-phase pro- gram to bring at least two technologies to the demon- stration stages as mandated by the Congress: · Phase 1. Develop evaluation criteria for assessing alternative technologies, and issue a request for proposals (RFP) from industry of technologies for destroying assembled chemical weapons without . . . . using Incineration. Phase 2. Assess the proposed technologies, and select the most promising ones for demonstration. (The program manager's policy was to bring as many technologies to demonstration as possible if they met the evaluation criteria and if resources were available.) · Phase 3. Demonstrate whether the selected tech- nologies could destroy assembled chemical muni- tions. . In August 1997, after detailed evaluation criteria had been developed with extensive input from the Dia- logue, the program manager for ACWA issued an REP calling for "a total system solution" for the destruction of assembled chemical weapons. Twelve proposals were submitted in response to the REP, and seven were selected for possible demonstration. These seven "tech- nology packages" are summarized in Table ES-1. The companies primarily responsible for the technology packages (referred to as technology providers) are also listed. Because the demilitarization of assembled chemical weapons involves (1) the disassembly of the weapons and (2) the destruction of both agent and en- ergetic materials, each technology package includes multiple technologies. In July 1998, the technology packages proposed by Burns and Roe, General Atomics, and Parsons- AlliedSignal were selected by DOD for demonstration. Resource limitations precluded demonstrations of more than three technology packages. iDemonstration was not defined by the Congress. Because the total pro- gram was to be completed in approximately two years (later extended to just under three years), the time available for demonstrations was limited. Eventually, the ACWA program manager defined a demonstration as "a series of tests conducted to prove [that] each critical process step meets the Program Evaluation Cnteria; the results are repeatable; and each process step can be incorporated into an overall system [i.e., a] 'total system solu- tion.' " This is more limited than a traditional DOD demonstration, which involves complete integrated systems at near-full scale. NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL ASSEMBLED CHEMICAL WEAPONS COMMITTEE Public Law 104-201 also required that DOD con- duct the assessment "in coordination with the National Research Council." Accordingly, the program manager for ACWA asked the National Research Council (NRC) to perform an independent technical review and evaluation of the seven technology packages that had passed DOD's initial screening criteria. DOD plans to use this technical review as one factor in determining whether to recommend further development and im plementation of any of the technology packages in its report to Congress on September 30, 1999. The NRC was not asked to compare the seven technologies to the baseline incineration system. Nor was it asked to rank the technologies or to recommend a technology. DOD asked that each technology be evaluated on its own merits, that its strengths and weaknesses be identified, and its potential for implementation be assessed. To conduct this evaluation, the NRC formed the Committee on Review and Evaluation of Alternative Technologies for Demilitarization of Assembled Chemical Weapons (ACW Committee). This report contains the committee's findings and recommenda- tions and details the factual data, the information sup- plied by the technology providers, and analyses and arguments that support the findings and recommenda- tions. Chapter 1 describes the context for the com- mittee's work, including the history of the Chemical Stockpile Disposal Program, the role of NRC commit- tees in reviewing and advising that program, and the approach adopted by the ACWA program. Chapter 2 is a discussion of the broad evaluation factors assembled by the ACW Committee to organize information about the seven technology packages in terms of (1) the tech- nical requirements of agent-destruction processes; (2) safety, health, and environmental considerations (in- cluding critical environmental permitting issues identi- fied during informal discussions with state regulators about the proposed alternative technologies); and (3) the potential for public acceptance. EVALUATING THE TECHNOLOGY PACKAG ES The committee found it necessary to evaluate much more than just the proposals submitted by the technology
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4 ALTERNATIVE TECHNOLOGIES FOR DEMILITARIZATION OF ASSEMBLED CHEMICAL WEAPONS providers. Because the ACWA program was moving forward rapidly, the technology packages were con- stantly being changed, and the committee had to stay abreast of the latest modifications. Working groups were formed to perform in-depth evaluations of each technology package and visit the facilities of the tech- nology providers. Members of the working groups con- ducted probing interrogations of the technology pro- viders through written or verbal questions, requests for further information, and face-to-face inquiries during site visits. Members of the ACW Committee also visited the demonstration sites (Aberdeen Proving Ground, Dugway Proving Ground, and Deseret Chemi- cal Depot) in early 1999, just prior to the demonstra- tion phase. A freeze date of March 15, 1999 was set for accu- mulating data so the report could be submitted to exter- nal review by May 1, 1999, and published by Sep- tember 1, 1999, in time for DOD's presentation to Congress. Thus, the committee did not have the benefit of the final demonstration results (which would not be available until June 21~. However, interim progress re- ports were made available to the committee. Chapters 3 through 9 summarize what the commit- tee learned about the seven technology packages se- lected for review. Each chapter is devoted to a separate technology package, but the chapters are similar in for- mat. After a short introduction, the package, as pro- posed by the technology provider (as of March 15, 1999), is described in some detail. This description is factual, focusing on the process flow and the support- ing scientific and engineering principles and data. This description is followed by the committee's evaluation of the package in terms of the evaluation factors de- scribed in Chapter 2 and a discussion of the require- ments for implementation. Each chapter ends with find- ings summarizing the committee' s evaluation. PUBLIC ACCEPTANCE The most significant impetus for seeking alternative technologies to destroy assembled chemical weapons has been public opposition to incineration and sup- port for alternatives by national activist groups and some members of the communities near the stockpile sites. These opponents have argued that the incinera- tion of chemical weapons "presents an imminent threat to public health" in the event of a catastrophic failure, the release of small amounts of chemical warfare agent, and the emission of trace amounts of products of in- complete combustion, such as dioxin. Because the committee was aware of the emphasis on community involvement in previous stockpile-related reports by NRC committees and others, the views of these com- munities were important considerations in the com- mittee's evaluations of the technology packages. The activities undertaken by the committee to solicit public perspectives of the alternative technologies included: (1) attendance at public meetings in Richmond, Ken- tucky; Anniston, Alabama; and Pueblo, Colorado; (2) discussions with many residents and concerned citi- zens who attended these meetings; (3) attendance at meetings of the Dialogue; and (4) discussions with Dia- logue members and Dialogue facilitators (the Keystone Center). Analyzing the information proved to be a complex undertaking for a number of reasons. First, the com- mittee attempted to identify who is meant by "the pub- lic" and how "acceptance" of a chemical weapons destruction technology should be understood. The committee found that very little systematic data were available for evaluating public acceptance of the alter- natives to incineration for chemical weapons destruc- tion. Because the collection of new data was beyond the scope of this report, the committee was unable to assess how specific characteristics of alternative tech- nologies affected public acceptance. For these reasons, the discussion of public accep- tance in this report does not follow the technology-by- technology approach of Chapters 3 through 9. Instead, the analysis of public acceptability is presented as a whole in Chapter 10, beginning with an overview of the processes by which public views of controversial policy options tend to be shaped and how these views are likely to affect public acceptance of alternatives to incineration for the disposal of chemical weapons. The focus of the discussion then shifts to the development of public views about incineration, the only technology for chemical weapons destruction that has received broad and sustained political attention. Finally, the prospects for public acceptance of alternatives to in- cineration are evaluated, with particular attention to the Dialogue, the innovative process for public involve- ment adopted by the ACWA program.
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS Based on 18 months of intensive information-gath- ering from the technology providers, the Dialogue, the affected communities, and DOD personnel, the com- mittee generated findings and recommendations. Find- ings for the individual technology packages are con- tained at the end of each of the technology chapters (Chapters 3 through 9~. Findings and recommendations that are broadly applicable to many or all of the pro- posed technology packages, together with supporting narrative, are presented in Chapter 11. These general findings and recommendations are also listed below. General Findings General Finding 1. The chemistries of all four of the primary technologies, (hydrolysis, SILVER II, plasma arc, and SET) as proposed, can decompose the chemi- cal agents with destruction efficiencies of 99.9999 per- cent. However, each technology package raises other technical issues that must be resolved. One of the crucial issues is the identity and disposition of by- products. General Finding 2. The technology base for the hy- drolysis of energetic materials is not as mature as it is for chemical agents. Chemical methods of destroying energetics have only been considered recently. There- fore, there has been relatively little experience with the alkaline decomposition of ACWA-specific energetic materials (compared to experience with chemical agents). The following significant issues should be re- solved to reduce uncertainties about the effectiveness and safety of using hydrolysis operations for destroy- ing energetic materials: . s the particle size reduction of energetics that must be achieved for proper operation · the solubility of energetics in specific alkaline so- lutions · process design of the unit operation and the identification of processing parameters (such as the degree of agitation and reactor residence time) necessary for complete hydrolysis · the characterization of actual products and by- products of hydrolysis as a function of the extent of reaction · the selection of chemical sensors and process con- trol strategies to ensure that the unit operation following hydrolysis can accept the products of hydrolysis · development of a preventative maintenance pro- gram that minimizes the possibility of incidents during the cleanup of accumulated precipitates General Finding 3. The conditions under which aro- matic nitro compounds, such as trinitrotoluene (TNT) or picric acid, will emulsify in the aqueous phase and not be completely hydrolyzed are not well understood. Therefore, this type of material could be present in the output stream from an energetic hydrolysis step. General Finding 4. The products of hydrolysis of some energetic materials have not been characterized well enough to support simultaneous hydrolysis of dif- ferent kinds of energetic materials in the same batch reactor. General Finding 5. The primary chemical decomposi- tion process in all of the technology packages produce environmentally unacceptable reaction products. Therefore, all of the packages are complicated pro- cesses that include subsequent treatment stepts) to modify these products. General Finding 6. The waste streams of all of the ACWA technology packages could contain very small amounts of hazardous substances (besides any residual chemical agent). These substances were not fully char- acterized at the time of this report; therefore, all waste streams must be characterized to ensure that human health and the environment are protected. If more than one phase (gas, liquid, or solid) is present in a waste stream and, each phase should be characterized sepa- rately. General Finding 7. None of the proposed technology packages complies completely with the hold-test-re- lease concept for all gaseous effluents (both process and ventilation effluents). General Finding X. Hold-test-release of gaseous ef- fluents may not ensure against a release of agent or other hazardous material to the atmosphere. No evi- dence shows that hold-test-release provides a higher level of safety than current continuous monitoring methods for gaseous streams with low levels of
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6 ALTERNATIVE TECHNOLOGIES FOR DEMILITARIZATION OF ASSEMBLED CHEMICAL WEAPONS contamination. Furthermore, none of the technologies provides for hold-test-release of effluents from ventila- tion systems that handle large volumes of gases from contaminated process areas. , General Finding 9. Solid salts will be hazardous waste, either because they are derived from hazardous waste (see Chapter 2) or because they leach heavy met- als above the levels allowed by the Resource Conser- vation And Recovery Act Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure. Stabilization mixing waste with a reagent or reagents to reduce the leachability of heavy metals will probably be required before the salts can be sent to a landfill. The potentially high chloride and nitrate content of these salts will make the waste diffi- cult to stabilize, and treatability studies will be neces- sary to determine a proper stabilization formula. General Finding 10. Testing, verification, and inte- gration beyond the 1999 demonstration phase will be necessary because the scale-up of a process can present many unexpected challenges, and the ACWA demon- strations were limited in nature. General Finding 11. Although a comprehensive quan- titative risk assessment (QRA), health risk assessment (HRA), and ecological risk assessment (similar to as- sessments performed for the baseline process) cannot be completed at this stage of process development, these assessments will have to be performed and re- fined as process development continues. General Finding 12. The "optimum" system for a par- ticular chemical weapons storage depot might include a combination of unit operations from the technology packages considered in this report. General Finding 13. Some of the ACWA technology providers propose that some effluent streams be used commercially. New or modified regulations may have to be developed to determine if these effluent streams can be recovered or reused. General Finding 14. An extraordinary commitment of resources will be necessary to complete the destruction of the assembled chemical weapons stockpile in time to meet the current deadline using any of the ACWA technology packages. This would demand a concerted national effort. It is unlikely that any of the technology packages could meet this deadline. General Finding 15. The Dialogue process for identi- fying an alternative technology is likely to reduce the level of public opposition to that technology. The com- mittee believes that the Dialogue has been and contin- ues to be a positive force for public acceptance of alter- natives to incineration Although the Talc process requires a significant commitment of time and re- sources, it has been a critical component of the ACWA program to date. General Finding 16. Although the committee did not have access to scientific data on the attributes of a tech- nology that would be most acceptable to the public, input from members of the active publics and previous research indicates that technologies with the follow- ing characteristics are likely to stimulate less public opposition: minimal emissions, particularly gaseous continuous monitoring of effluents to verify that the process is operating as designed (process as- surance measurement) · provisions for representatives of the local commu- nity to observe and participate in the process assurance measurement General Recommendations General Recommendation 1. If a decision is made to move forward with any of the ACWA technology pack- ages, substantial additional testing, verification, and integration should be performed prior to full-scale implementation (see General Finding 10~. General Recommendation 2. The sampling and analysis programs at each phase of development should be carefully reviewed to ensure that the characteriza- tion of trace components is as comprehensive as pos- sible to avoid surprises in the implementation of the selected technology (see General Finding 6~. General Recommendation 3. If a decision is made to move forward with any of these technology packages, health and safety evaluations should progress from qualitative assessments to more quantitative assess- ments as the process design matures. Quantitative (QRA), health (HRA), and ecological risk assessments should be conducted as soon as is practical. Early ini- tiation of these assessments will allow findings to be
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY implemented with minimal cost and schedule impact. (See General Finding 11.) General Recommendation 4. Any of these technol- ogy packages, or any component of these technology packages, should be selected on a site-specific basis. (See General Finding 12.) General Recommendation 5. Whatever unit operation immediately follows the hydrolysis of energetic mate- rials should be designed to accept emulsified aromatic nitro compounds, such as TNT or picric acid, as con- taminants in the aqueous feed stream. (See General Finding 3.) 7 General Recommendation 6. Simultaneous process- ing of different types of energetic materials should not be performed until there is substantial evidence that the intermediates formed from the hydrolysis of aromatic nitro compounds will not combine with M28 propel- lant additives or ordnance fuze components to form extremely sensitive explosives, such as lead picrate. (See General Finding 4.) General Recommendation 7. The Department of Defense should continue to support the Dialogue throughout the current ACWA program and should seriously consider the participation of the Dialogue in any follow-on programs.
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 8 intermediates formed from the hydrolysis of aromatic nitro compounds will not combine with M28 propellant additives or ordnance fuze components to form extremely sensitive explosives, such as lead picrate. (See General Finding 4.) General Recommendation 7. The Department of Defense should continue to support the Dialogue throughout the current ACWA program and should seriously consider the participation of the Dialogue in follow-on programs.
Representative terms from entire chapter: