Posted: 4/16/2008 5:01:59 AM EDT
Army set to destroy old chemical weapons
The Associated Press
Posted : Wednesday Apr 16, 2008 6:04:43 EDT
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii — The Army is set to begin destroying the largest concentration of unexploded chemical weapons ever found in the U.S.
A total of 71 of the weapons dating from World War I on will be detonated over the next three weeks in a remote area of Schofield Barracks on Oahu.
The Army says the phosgene and chloropicrin rounds were stockpiled through World War II and were discovered during range clearance operations between 2004 and 2006.
The liquid-filled rounds will be destroyed one at a time in a Transportable Detonation Chamber, a 110-ton device being used in the U.S. for the first time.
The system uses explosives to destroy munitions and their chemical agents, and includes containment of any vapors generated when a munition is destroyed, the Army said.
Schofield Set To Destroy Chemical Weapons
Updated: April 14, 2008 09:23 PM PST
By Beth Hillyer
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS (KHNL)-- Following the first World War the U-S Army stored chemical weapons at Schofield Barracks. They contained liquid chemicals harmful to the enemy. Agents so strong they caused choking and harmful reactions. Now the army is set to destroy these weapons.
The transportable detonation chamber or T-D-C will be used to dispose of 71 chemical munitions found on Schofield Barracks a couple of years ago.
"They were discovered as part of unexploded ordinance clearing operations that occurred between June 2004 and Sept 2006. As I mentioned these munitions are extremely old date back to the period between World War I and World war II, " explains Colonel Matthew Margotta.
The chamber is a proven method having destroyed more than one hundred chemical munitions in the United Kingdom. The Army maintains no chemical vapors will be released.
"The TDC is a fully contained system what that means is no part of the operation you are going to see here today has the capability to impact our environment."
The tour begins where disposal experts suit up.
"What I'm holding is one of the key pieces of personal protective equipment the M-40 military mask with an apron hood, says project manager Dave Hoffman."
Inside the chamber the old chemical munition is wrapped up and placed in a demolition shell. Most are smaller than this demonstration munition.
The chamber is the size of a storage shed made of strong steel. The weapon and the liquid agent are exploded by a blast and then vaporized by steam.
All the vapors and byproducts are then sent through two more chemical processes and the entire process is monitored closely. The Army does not use or train with chemical weapons today following an international treaty.
A team of international observers will document the disposal of the chemical weapons over the next three weeks.
Posted on: Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Army begins destruction of 71 chemical weapons
Detonation of hazardous munitions will take place in two-story, 110-ton setup
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Over the next three weeks, the Army will destroy 71 old chemical weapons here — the largest concentration of unexploded, or "dud" chemical rounds ever found in the United States.
"I don't have an explanation yet in terms of why we saw 71 here and lesser quantities at (other locations)," said Tad Davis, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for the environment, safety and occupational health.
Army officials said an explanation for the high number of chemical weapon malfunctions may have been lost over time.
The phosgene and chloropicrin rounds, manufactured from World War I on, were stockpiled through World War II, the Army said.
The Army discovered the unexploded liquid-filled rounds from 2004 to 2006 during ordnance cleanup of an old range for a Stryker brigade "battle area complex."
The chemical weapons, which include several-foot-tall 155 mm artillery shells, will be destroyed one at a time beginning today in a Transportable Detonation Chamber as part of a $7 million cleanup effort.
The media yesterday were given a tour of the 110-ton setup, which is being used for the first time in the United States for chemical weapons destruction after being tested in the United Kingdom.
A smaller device has been used to destroy smaller quantities of old chemical rounds found at firing ranges in the U.S., but it takes longer to process munitions, officials said.
"(The Transportable Detonation Chamber) provides us the capability to do 10, 20, 30 items a day," said Dale A. Ormond, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for the elimination of chemical weapons. "So this is the first opportunity where we found enough munitions where this process becomes economically feasible."
The chamber is a two-story-tall serpentine path of armored boxes, ducts, heaters, drums and sensors contained within a large tentlike structure in which the air is changed four times per hour.
The Army, which is leasing the chamber from company CH2M Hill, transported the setup by barge from the Mainland.
The chemical rounds will be destroyed one by one with up to 15 pounds of explosives in a freight elevator-size chamber with 1 inch of armor plating backed by 10 inches of sand and then more steel plate.
"Safety is our A-No. 1 goal," said David Hoffman, the Transportable Detonation Chamber program manager.
The fireball created by the explosion, with some steam added, destroys the chemical agent, and a series of over-pressure tanks treat and contain the exhaust.
The operation will take place at a remote "firing point" backing up to the Wai'anae Range at Schofield.
The rounds with chloropicrin and phosgene — both choking agents — were part of a haul of 250 "liquid-fill" unexploded munitions unearthed by the Army.
Most were determined not to be chemical weapons. Seven chemical rounds were deemed too dangerous to handle and were destroyed in place.
Of the 71 rounds to be destroyed, 70 have phosgene and one contains chloropicrin, the Army said.
Two other rounds with an unknown "liquid fill" remain on the firing range because an environmental lawsuit and court order halted unexploded ordnance cleanup, officials said.
The chemical weapons effort is one of several ordnance cleanups the U.S. government is working on in Hawai'i, whose strategic forward position in the Pacific has resulted in more than a century of military buildup.
A report on the health risks of both the chemical weapons and discovery of depleted uranium on O'ahu and the Big Island from a 1960s weapon system will be released in coming months.
Davis, the deputy assistant secretary of the Army, will meet tomorrow with Wai'anae Coast officials at 7 p.m. at Wai'anae District Park to discuss ordnance dumped in near-shore waters more than 60 years ago.
A $1.1 million study is expected to look at shellfish and limu health in the area, officials said.
A second study, expected to cost about $3 million, will include a "demonstration project" examining the advantages and disadvantages of removing old ordnance, some of which has become part of coral growth.
Does anyone else find that picture funny.
The "Protective Barrier" wouldn't fill me with very much confidence if I was those ladies on the other side.
And, that Round looks like it's about to fall off the edge of the table.
So they just 'found' the stuff out on the range?
Does anyone else notice the Arfcommer's failed attempt to impress the ladies?
They could have gotten rid of this stuff ages ago if not for the treehuggers launching massive complaints every time they tried to do so.
I am interested in the 110 ton "Transportable Detonation Chamber"
the fat dude in the yellow shirt in the pic is trying to impress the chick in the orange shirt
you can tell by the tension in his hand
"To work with this stuff you have to have BALLS THIS BIG!"
What a joke, any EOD tech worth his salt can dispose of those projectiles with HE and there will not be a farking trace of agent left.
OMG! They found the WMD's.
Hardly the largest concentration of unexploded chemical weapons.
2/20/2008 Destroying 155 Millimeter Mustard Projectiles
Workers at the Tooele Chemical Agent Disposal Facility (TOCDF) are safely and progressively destroying more than 50,000 mustard agent-filled 155-millimeter projectiles stored at the Deseret Chemical Depot (DCD).