Defense Media Network

VX Exit: Final Projectiles Transferred for Destruction

The United States is one step closer to an international treaty goal, as Blue Grass Chemical Activity (BGCA) chemical crews supported delivery of the last of the nation’s stockpiled VX projectiles for destruction.

“Our chemical crews and support elements have really risen to this challenge,” said Lt. Col. Edward Williams, BGCA commander. “Not only did they accomplish this objective during a pandemic, but under the threat of severe weather and a February ice storm as well.”

Part of the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Activity, BGCA safely and securely stores the nation’s chemical weapons, one of two remaining stockpile locations, and supports delivery of them for destruction. This week marks a BGCA milestone when the last of nearly 13,000 VX nerve-agent-filled projectiles stored on Blue Grass Army Depot (BGAD) were delivered to the Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant.

Crews of trained toxic material handlers began moving munitions mid-2019 at the start of the ongoing H-mustard projectile campaign. The experienced chemical crews, inventory specialists, Quality Assurance Specialist/Ammunition Surveillance inspectors and monitoring personnel ensure each delivery is performed safely and in accordance with all governing regulations.

Blue Grass Chemical Activity toxic materials handlers guide the last of the VX projectiles into an enhanced on-site container for delivery to the Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant for demilitarization. (U.S. Army courtesy image)

“It really is a team effort, not just between the governmental agencies and contractors, but also within the BGCA,” said David Velazquez, director of chemical operations. “We’ve been moving munitions for nearly two years now. From the monitoring of the earth-covered magazines by monitoring systems operators, the accountability of the ammunition by inventory specialists, to the loading of the ammunition by the toxic material handlers, each component is an integral element to our organizational success.”

Nichole Mego, lead inventory management specialist, noted the importance of one of those components, inventory management.

“Our main role is accountability,” she said. “We verify which munitions are being transported from the igloo and ensure the correct munitions are selected before the enhanced on-site container is loaded.”

Following munitions verification, inventory specialists ensure documentation is complete and correct before conducting a full inventory of the munitions remaining in the earth-covered magazine.
Munitions accountability is crucial for BGCA to maintain compliance with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons which enforces the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).

This international treaty bans the use and production of chemical weapons and directs disposal of remaining stockpiles. With the VX projectiles delivered for destruction, the U.S. is one step closer to meeting its treaty goal.

BGCA continues to support delivery of mustard munitions to BGCAPP for destruction. The next destruction campaign is slated to begin in fall 2021. Chemical weapons destruction at BGAD is scheduled to be complete by the end of 2023.

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