Officials of the Aberdeen Chemical Agent Disposal Facility issued a progress report last week on the destruction of mustard agent at the facility.
Public meetings on the program are scheduled for 7 p.m. July 16 at the Edgewood Senior Center in Edgewood and 7 p.m. July 17 at Chestertown Middle School in Kent County to discuss the program and answer questions about the Aberdeen facility's operation.
Officials reported last week that work continues on the accelerated destruction of the mustard agent stockpile. As of June 30, the Army Technical Escort Unit had moved 72 bulk containers of mustard agent to the facility. Workers had drained 57 containers containing more than 38 tons of mustard agent.
Of the drained mustard agent, more than 32 tons had been neutralized as of June 30. Shipment of the byproduct of neutralization, hydrolysate, began June 17. The hydrolysate is shipped to DuPont Secure Environmental Treatment at Chambers Works, in Deepwater, N.J., for treatment.
On June 6, workers stopped draining and neutralizing mustard agent after an inspection at the facility discovered issues with paperwork that had to be resolved. Maintenance and hydrolysate actions continued during the stop-work order. The stop-work order was lifted on June 16, and draining and neutralization of mustard agent resumed.
Several incidents have occurred during the processing, but none has resulted in injury to workers, the community or the environment, nor has there been a release outside the facility, officials said.
On May 12, a low level of mustard agent vapor was detected near a drained ton container because of an error in reading the level of agent inside a drain station. Procedures were changed to prevent a recurrence.
On May 28, a power outage resulted in a brief rise in agent levels, which were contained within the neutralization building. Backup generators restored the facility's ventilation system, and the levels subsided.
On June 22, an alarm went off when mustard agent vapor was detected in an airlock, where workers were processing a hazardous waste drum. Workers masked and evacuated the facility.
On June 25, workers put on masks and evacuated the facility after an alarm alerted to the possible presence of mustard agent vapor. Three employees who were working at a drain station returned to work after they were medically cleared.
On June 28, an alarm sounded at a drain station room, where a container had been removed after draining and decontamination. No one was in the room at the time.
The target for completion of the mustard agent destruction remains November.
The Aberdeen center will have an information booth at the Harford County Farm Fair, which will be held July 24-27, at the Harford County Equestrian Center in Bel Air; and at the Party on the Bay, Aug. 16 in Rock Hall.
For more information, call the Edgewood Chemical Stockpile Outreach Office, 410-676-6800; the Aberdeen Chemical Agent Disposal Facility Public Affairs Office, 410-436-5253; or the Bechtel Aberdeen Public Outreach Office, 410- 436-9507.