New Technology Destroys Old Munitions

Army officials brought a state-of-the-art system to the Schofield Barracks in Hawaii to destroy several historic munitions, last month. The system, known as the Explosive Destruction System, or EDS, was brought in to destroy 10 World War I/World War II-era chemical munitions that were recovered from the range in Hawaii, between 2009 and 2012 during range clearance activities.

The Explosive Destruction System is a safe and effective means of destroying chemical munitions. The blast, vapor and fragments are all contained inside the stainless steel chamber. (Photo: U.S. Army Chemical Materials Activity/Released)

The Explosive Destruction System is a safe and effective means of destroying chemical munitions. The blast, vapor and fragments are all contained inside the stainless steel chamber. (Photo: U.S. Army Chemical Materials Activity/Released)

“The Army no longer uses these types of munitions,” said Col. Richard Fromm, commander, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii. “However, as a matter of safety and environmental stewardship, we have a responsibility to ensure that when we find these types of historic munitions, we also safely destroy them.”

The EDS is the Army’s proven technology to destroy recovered chemical munitions. It provides transportable, on-site treatment and destruction in a contained, environmentally sound manner.

“It’s really an impressive system,” said Rob Snyder, EDS site project manager, Recovered Chemical Materiel Directorate, or RCMD, U.S. Army Chemical Materials Activity.

Robert Snyder, left, Explosive Destruction System site project manager for the Recovered Chemical Materiel Directorate, U.S. Army Chemical Materials Activity, explains the destruction process to a group touring the facility at Schofield Barracks, April 15, 2015. (Photo: Aiko Brum/U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii Public Affairs/Released)

Robert Snyder, left, Explosive Destruction System site project manager for the Recovered Chemical Materiel Directorate, U.S. Army Chemical Materials Activity, explains the destruction process to a group touring the facility at Schofield Barracks, April 15, 2015. (Photo: Aiko Brum/U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii Public Affairs/Released)

Snyder is part of a joint team from RCMD and the Army’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, which will be destroying the munitions.

“There are layers upon layers of safeguards that were built into the EDS design,” Snyder said. “We utilize redundant containment capabilities coupled with real-time video and air monitoring, to ensure the protection of the system operators, the community and the environment.”

Containment capabilities include the EDS itself, as well as an environmental enclosure surrounding the system. This enclosure is monitored by multiple video and air monitors, and is connected to an air filtration system that filters all air exiting the enclosure. Flooring beneath the enclosure also acts as a safeguard in the highly unlikely event of a spill.

Since its first mission in 2001, the EDS has been used to safely and successfully destroy more than 1,855 items nationwide. This is the second time the Army has brought a system to Hawaii to destroy recovered chemical munitions. In 2008, the Army used a similar system to successfully destroy 71 munitions containing the same type of chemical fills.

Both efforts involved extensive Army coordination with local, state and federal agencies, to include the Department of Health and Human Services, the Hawaii State Department of Health, and local emergency responders and health care providers, in order to ensure safe, coordinated efforts.

Army officials anticipate the 10 munitions will be destroyed in approximately two weeks. All waste resulting from the operation will be shipped off island to a permitted treatment, storage and disposal facility, per applicable laws and regulations, on the continental United States.

Story and information provided by the U.S. Army
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