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    Pine Bluff Arsenal project overcomes obstacles

    Pine Bluff Arsenal project overcomes obstacles

    Photo By Mark Thompson | Members of the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville’s project team...... read more read more



    Story by Mark Thompson 

    U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville

    Despite challenges, a multi-year mission to clean-up a former munitions disposal site in Arkansas is projected for completion in one year as the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center Huntsville’s Chemical Warfare Materiel Design Center wraps up remediation activities.

    Huntsville Center awarded a task order in September 2015 to perform corrective measures at a pair of munition response sites at Pine Bluff Arsenal in Arkansas or PBA.

    The CWM Design Center is the only organization authorized to execute any phase of a chemical warfare materiel project or to conduct the mandatory pre-operational surveys within Department of Defense while serving as the advisor to assistant secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment for execution policy for CWM issues.

    The project is on track to conclude intrusive operations in 2020. Work is scheduled to end in February, a final report produced in July, a complete water sampling in November, and close-out all operations by December.

    The effort includes a 321-acre surface removal project with additional subsurface removal of munitions as well as groundwater and surface water sampling and testing. PBA historically followed the once common practice of the burial of munitions, explosives, and other chemicals.

    The now abandoned practice left burial sites in need of remediation for safety and environmental purposes. Periodically, CWM is recovered from formerly used defense sites or active arsenals such as PBA.

    From bad weather to the unexpected discovery of World War II chemical agent training items known as Chemical Agent Identification Sets or CAIS, the mission to remove munitions from sites at PBA had obstacles to overcome, said Lindsey Miller, Huntsville Center PBA project manager.

    “There was not an expectation to recover intact CAIS during the corrective measures as there had been none recovered during the previous remedial investigation,” Miller said. “The team has recovered over 7,000 CAIS which has had a major impact on the cost and schedule.”

    In December 2018, a Huntsville Center partner on the project, the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Activity or CMA began its second mission at the site to destroy recovered chemical warfare materiel or CWM, when thousands of buried chemical warfare items intended for use during World War II were found.

    According to a press release from CMA, the recovered items include more than 7,100 CAIS K-941 bottles, once used for training soldiers in the safe identification and handling of chemical agent. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also recovered four German Traktor Rockets, captured during World War II and sent to PBA for analysis, and one 4.2-inch mortar.

    The CMA’s Recovered Chemical Materiel Directorate or RCMD began using a transportable Explosive Destruction System, or EDS, to neutralize chemical warfare materiel recovered during environmental remediation efforts at PBA. Collectively, the destruction site is known as the Pine Bluff Explosive Destruction System, or PBEDS for short, according to the release.

    More challenges were to come in the form of persistent precipitation.

    “Rain has caused the pits to fill with water and the project team is having to be pump the water from the pits before digging can resume,” Miller said. “The team is encountering more heavily saturated areas with munitions and munitions debris during the riverbank subsurface clearance than previously estimated.”

    Despite unwelcomed discoveries of more munitions and weather-based delays, Miller says the project is nearing its completion and her team achieving all their goals.

    “As with any project involving CWM there are complexities and challenges involved,” Miller said. “That is why the planning process is crucial so that when the team executes in the field, CWM exposures are minimized and are consistent with safe and efficient operations. The field team has executed over 450 work days and has had zero CWM related incidents. The entire project delivery team has been committed to ensuring that the Pine Bluff workforce, the public, and the community will benefit from a safer, cleaner environment at the project’s completion.”

    Huntsville Center is a unique U.S. Army Corps of Engineers organization. The Center is not defined by geographic boundaries; its missions provide specialized technical expertise, global engineering solutions, and cutting edge innovations through centrally managed programs in support of national interests.

    Huntsville Center’s more than 1,000 employees manage nearly 3,000 ongoing projects at any given time. These projects fall into one of five portfolios: Medical, Facilities and Base Operations, Energy, Operational Technology, and Environmental. The portfolios comprise 42 different program areas, as well as six mandatory and six technical centers of expertise, and 17 centers of standardization. Projects are generally broad in scope, require technical expertise, centralized management or are functions not normally accomplished by a Headquarters, USACE organizational element.



    Date Taken: 02.28.2019
    Date Posted: 02.28.2019 13:33
    Story ID: 312281
    Location: HUNTSVILLE, AL, US 

    Web Views: 160
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    Pine Bluff Arsenal project overcomes obstacles