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Bechtel’s Impact Report

Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Plant

Kentucky, US
Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Plant

Blue Grass Plant Team Completes Kentucky Chemical Weapons Destruction

Bechtel led the team that destroyed the chemical weapon stockpile at the Blue Grass Army Depot near Richmond, Kentucky. 

In July of 2023, the United States met its obligations to the International Chemical Weapons Convention Treaty by destroying the remaining 523 tons of stockpiled munitions at the Blue Grass Army Depot in Richmond, Kentucky.  

Though never used by the United States, chemical weapons were stockpiled by the U.S. Army at a number of sites during and after World War II. Bechtel was contracted by the Department of Defense, Program Executive Office, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives, to design, build, test, and operate a first-of-a-kind plant that would destroy the nation's chemical weapons stockpile before September 2023. 

Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass, a joint venture of Bechtel National and Parsons Government Services, destroyed more than 100,000 mustard agent and nerve agent-filled projectiles and rockets using neutralization and explosive destruction technologies. The Bechtel team brought expertise and innovation, and the final munition at the Blue Grass Army Depot was safely destroyed in July of 2023.

Two workers load the last rocket containing GB nerve agent to be destroyed onto a loading rack in the Blue Grass plant. 

The Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant (BGCAPP) now turns its attention to closure, a multi-year effort in which areas of the plant that have come into contact with chemical agent will be decontaminated and the equipment dismantled. The disposition of the remainder of the plant will be determined by the Department of the Army, the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and Blue Grass Army Depot. 

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Throughout the project, the team focused on keeping the workforce, the community, and the environment safe. The Bechtel-Parsons Blue Grass team has worked without a lost time incident since September 2019.

The Blue Grass stockpile, together with the munitions destroyed at Pueblo, accounted for the remaining 10% of what was originally more than 30,000 tons of chemical warfare agents in the combined U.S. stockpile of explosively configured weapons and bulk containers.


The stockpile at the Blue Grass depot was destroyed in two ways, in the Main Plant and using Static Detonation Chambers. 

For the projectiles containing nerve agents, specialists operating sophisticated robotic machinery disassembled the munitions and extracted the chemical agent. Using a mix of caustic and hot water, the team chemically neutralized the agent, rendering the liquid material as hydrolysates. 

The hydrolysates were held and monitored to confirm agent destruction and then shipped to a permitted hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facility for further processing in accordance with environmental permitting. 

After the agent was drained from them, the projectiles were thermally decontaminated and metals parts were safely recycled. 

The projectiles containing mustard agent were destroyed in a Static Detonation Chamber that used heat to consume the toxic material. Any exhaust was filtered through a complex filtration system. 

For GB and VX rockets, following the drainage of the agent, the warheads were placed in containers and sent for temporary storage in igloos at the Blue Grass Army Depot. They will be destroyed in a Static Detonation Chamber unit at a later time. Rocket motors are packed in boxes and temporarily stored until they are shipped to Anniston, Alabama where they will be destroyed in a Static Detonation Chamber at that facility. 

Partnering with the Local Community

The Bechtel-Parsons team worked to establish a strong relationship with the nearby Richmond community during their 20 years at the Blue Grass Army Depot. The team took part in regular citizen and government advisory council meetings to support clear and transparent communications about progress at the site.  

The Bechtel-Parsons team also worked to create strong ties through community engagement and volunteering, including regular support of: 

  • Madison County Schools  
  • Baptist Health Richmond for community Behavioral Health Initiative 
  • Habitat for Humanity 
  • Local Heart Walk for the American Heart Association
  • Eastern Kentucky University 
  • American Red Cross-Bluegrass Chapter 

Over half of the employees working at the site were hired locally. So far, the project has paid $1.264 billion into the local payroll and has spent more than $200 million with Kentucky companies.  

As the plant enters the closure phase, the Bechtel-Pueblo team will be supporting Total Workforce Planning to ensure the colleagues that made the completion of destruction possible transfer their valuable skills to new jobs.