Blue Grass Army Depot public meeting discusses plant’s future after completion of weapons disposal project

WEKU | By Shepherd Snyder

The Kentucky Chemical Demilitarization Citizens’ Advisory Commission and Chemical Destruction Community Advisory Board had their quarterly meeting with Blue Grass Army Depot officials Wednesday. It’s the first since all munitions at the plant were destroyed last July.

The process to destroy what is considered secondary waste at the plant is now underway. Nearly five percent of the containerized rocket warheads contaminated with GB nerve agent have been drained as of the beginning of this week. Destruction of the VX-contaminated warheads is set to begin in November.

Discussions to transition the plant’s workforce to other local jobs have been made as plant operations begin to wind down.

Craig Williams is co-chair of both the Citizens’ Advisory Commission and Community Advisory Board. He has been involved in the talks to get companies established in Richmond as part of the transition.

“The interested parties are all Class A companies of national or international notoriety and capabilities,” Williams said. “They recognize the advantage of transferring some of this workforce to their objectives because of the highly trained, highly skilled, highly security cleared personnel that are going to be transitioning out of the de-mil process. So it’s very encouraging.”

Phase one of the plant’s closure involves the decontamination of the facilities. It will finish by the end of 2025. Phase two, which involves those facilities’ demolition, will begin after.

Ron Hink is the project manager at Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass, whose workforce oversaw the destruction of the depot’s stockpile.

“It’s over a year before we really start dropping significant numbers,” Hink said. “So we’ve got a period of time to stand up that effort and establish those relationships with other industries that will be looking for, you know, a pretty good workforce.”

More than half of the plant’s workforce was hired locally. As of July, the total number of workers at the facility number 1,466.

Part three of Eastern Standard’s series on the chemical weapons facility will air Thursday on WEKU. It will focus on the plant’s future and its ensuing economic impact on Richmond.

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Photo credit: US Military