“All this has to be demonstrated,” he says. “We
are using 10,000 dummy rounds to test, but also to
demonstrate that the operations team knows what
to do in [crisis] conditions. You simulate everything—even an operator having a heart attack in a
When the project’s primary construction phase was
completed in October 2015, the Blue Grass plant
became the ninth chemical weapons destruction
facility in the United States—seven of which already
have finished destroying
their stockpiles. So Blue
Grass project managers
had a wealth of experience
and lessons learned from
which to pull.
Jeff Brubaker, the site
project manager, has
worked for the govern-ment-sponsored chemical
destruction program for
27 years. He says the construction material selection, layout design and
weapons-handling protocol for Blue Grass all relied
on lessons learned. For instance, the team knew
it was necessary to install backup generators so
the sophisticated ventilation system that prevents
deadly agent vapor from seeping into work areas
never shuts down.
“There was a robust exchange of lessons,” says
Mr. Omichinski, who served as life-cycle project
manager for Bechtel on the Blue Grass project and
worked on similar chemical weapons destruction
facility projects in the U.S. in Aberdeen, Maryland;
Anniston, Alabama; and Pueblo, Colorado.
Yet, the Blue Grass team couldn’t simply copy and
paste previous project plans. In fact, some of the
Parsons and the U.S. Department of Defense, the
project aims to design, construct and test a facility
that will allow the U.S. government to destroy 523
tons of nerve and mustard agent in rockets and
artillery projectiles stored at the Blue Grass Army
Depot. But before the facility can begin chemical
remediation in 2020, the team must develop and
test destruction equipment to make sure it works
safely—and complies with relevant regulations, says
Douglas Omichinski, PMP, corporate manager of
construction and principal vice president, Bechtel,
Houston, Texas, USA.
2003: The U.S. Department of Defense awards the
Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass
team the contract to design,
build, systemize, operate and
close the facility.
2004: Initial design for facility is completed.
2005: Department of
Defense orders redesign of
facility to meet budget and
2006: Construction begins.
2008: Placement of concrete
foundation begins for the
building where chemical
agents will be neutralized. A
138kV electrical substation is
installed to provide power to
the pilot plant.
2010: Department of Defense
accepts final designs for
2012: Construction is 60
percent completed. Facility
receives Voluntary Protection
Program certification from
the Occupational Safety and
2013: Construction is 75
percent complete, including structural steel on main
2014: Testing of equipment
begins, including destruction
of dummy weapons.
October 2015: Construction
of primary facility completed.
November 2016: Construc-
tion of separate static-deto-
nation chamber scheduled to
in a bubble
PMP, Bechtel, Houston,