An organization headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground-South once again provided expertise and technology to assess and destroy chemical munitions recovered at a joint base in New Jersey.
The U.S. Army Chemical Materials Activity Recovered Chemical Materiel Directorate (CMA RCMD) partnered with Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JB MDL) in May to complete a second mission to destroy World War I-era chemical munitions. RCMD maintains the U.S. Army expertise and technology to assess and destroy recovered chemical munition items in a safe, environmentally sound manner using specialized capabilities.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers discovered six 75mm projectiles at JB MDL’s Parachute Jump Circle while investigating and removing chemical munitions, munitions of explosive concern and munitions constituents from two disposal pits, in 2021. Under CMA RCMD management, experts from 20th CBRNE Command (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives) overpacked the items ensuring safe assessment, transport and storage pending their destruction.
Operators used CMA RCMD’s non-intrusive assessment technology to identify the contents and explosive capability of the projectiles without opening them, enhancing public safety. The Materiel Assessment Review Board, comprised of Army subject matter experts in chemical research and operations, used the field assessment data and historical records to determine four out of six projectiles contained a mustard agent fill and recommended destruction in CMA RCMD’s Explosive Destruction System (EDS).
“Planning and execution with RCMD and the regulatory agencies (EPA and NJDEP) went smoothly just as it did with the previously successful July 2016 mission,” said Michael Figura, environmental engineer and project manager for the Environmental Restoration Program (JB MDL) Installation Support Section.
CMA RCMD deployed its EDS to treat the mustard-filled projectiles. The EDS uses cutting charges to explosively access chemical munitions before neutralizing the chemical agent. The system’s main component – a sealed stainless-steel vessel – contains all blast, vapor and fragments from the process.
“The Explosive Destruction System was invented for missions like this. There’s layers and layers of safety,” said Derek Romitti, CMA’s EDS project manager.
The EDS site layout at JB MDL was set up in accordance with all applicable laws and permit requirements, ensuring the safety of workers and protection of the environment. As an additional layer of safety, the EDS is placed within an environmental enclosure, which filters the air to ensure it is safe before it is released to the environment.
To date, CMA RCMD has conducted more than 3,300 assessments in the United States and treated more than 3,800 items using the EDS.