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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Blue Grass Army Depot (BGAD)
Blue Grass Chemical Activity (BGCA)
Richmond, Kentucky

Located within the heart of Blue Grass country (think race horses, tobacco) in Kentucky, just minutes south of Lexington, lies the town of Richmond. Home of Eastern Kentucky University and known for its relaxed southern lifestyle, Richmond is also home to the Blue Grass Army Depot, just a few miles south of town. The depot, consisting of 15,000 acres of conventional ammuntion storage for the Armed Forces, is also home to the Blue Grass Chemical Activity.

BGAD's mission is to provide munitions, chemical defense equipment and special operations support to the Department of Defense.

The BGAD is a Tier 1 Power Projection Platform for munitions, chemical defense equipment and special operations support for all of the Department of Defense. On 1 October 1999, Anniston Munitions Center (ANMC) became a subordinate unit under the command and control of BGAD. ANMC is a multi-functional Class V facility. It is a Tier II facility for conventional ammunition and a Tier I facility for missiles.

BGAD is under the command jurisdiction of the Commanding General, OSC. The OSC Commanding General assigns the Commanding Officer, BGAD responsibility and authority to exercise command jurisdiction over the installation(s) in accordance with the mission assigned. BGAD, its tenants, and other Government services/activities provide and receive administrative and logistical support IAW negotiated agreements.

Strategically located in the heart of the Eastern United States, Blue Grass Army Depot is situated along major traffic corridors crisscrossing the famed Blue Grass region of Kentucky. The depot's main mission is to provide munitions, chemical material surveillance, and Special Operations support to the Department of Defense. The depot also provides allied trades and fabrication support to a government-owned, contractor-operated facility and is a primary center for surveillance, receipt, storage, issue, testing, and minor repair of chemical defense equipment. Many Reserve and National Guard units have found the mild climate and diverse terrain an ideal location for their training requirements. Blue Grass Depot, a Tier 1 installation, matches its workload with that of the units to provide realtime training opportunities and increase the depot's productivity.

In 1964, the Blue Grass Ordnance Depot (located in Richmond, Kentucky) merged with the Lexington Signal Depot (located in Lexington, Kentucky) to form Lexington-Blue Grass Army Depot. Lexington-Blue Grass Army Depot operated until 1992, providing ammunition and general supply support and maintaining communications and electronics equipment. In response to a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission decision in 1988, the federal government directed that the Lexington facility close by 1995. In 1992, the general supply and maintenance mission that the Lexington facility had undertaken ended. Final closure was completed in 1994.

Almost immediately local employees began accepting jobs with other federal agencies. The Facility's communications-electronics repair mission moved to Tobyhanna Army Depot in Pennsylvania, the Material Readiness Support Activity moved to Redstone Arsenal in Alabama, and some small operations gradually moved to various other active Army installations. Remaining operations were transferred to the Richmond Facility of the Lexington-Bluegrass Army Depot. The Richmond Facility has since been renamed the Bluegrass Army Depot. The only government-related operation remaining at the time of the closure announcement was Serv-Air, Inc. This contractor, now known as E-Systems, is still located at the Lexington Facility, and is leasing buildings and installation support from the Commonwealth of Kentucky Department of Military Affairs.

The conventional ammunition area consists of 852 igloos filled with ammunition with several tons additionally stored outside. The Depot's mission of conventional munitions has remained very active since World War II. Located within the heart of this highly secure area is the chemical limited area (CLA), with even more security.

BGAD is the only DoD site using the ammunition peculiar equipment (APE) 1300 system. This operation is a proven resource, recovery, recycle process supporting the conventional munitions demilitarization program. A flashing furnace supports this and other operations.

BGAD also has a 50 acre open detonation site which can handle 9000 pounds net explosive weight (NEW) per day.

The Blue Grass Chemical Activity (BGCA) is responsible for the safe storage, monitoring and ultimate disposal of its stockpile of chemical weapons. The stockpile at Blue Grass is maintained on 250 acres of land near the northern boundary of Blue Grass Army Depot. As a tenant unit on the depot, the Blue Grass Chemical Activity reports to a different headquarters than the depot and leases 49 ammunition storage igloos located on one square kilometer near the northern boundary of the depot. Blue Grass Chemical Activity uses igloos to store chemical weapons. The stockpile is kept in a secure, restricted area which covers one-square kilometer. The entire area is surrounded by two fences that are topped with coiled concertina wire. The row of tall poles topped by high intensity lights, all pointing outward, not only provides excellent perimeter lighting for the guard force, but also hampers the ability of anyone outside to see into the unlighted chemical limited area.

The three types of chemical agents at Blue Grass Chemical Activity include a blister agent, known as "mustard," which began arriving in the 1940's and two nerve agents, GB and VX which began arriving in the 1960's. The "mustard" blister agent is designed to incapacitate, while the GB and VX nerve agents are deadly.

Chemical weapons are stored in earth-covered bunkers called igloos. These igloos are designed specifically to protect the chemical weapons from external factors such as storms, lightning and other weather-related events. Blue Grass Chemical Activity maintains 49 igloos, 45 of which are dedicated to its chemical weapons storage mission. The igloos are approximately 25-feet high, 15-feet wide and 80-feet long. They are constructed of steel-reinforced concrete and capped with approximately 25 inches of soil. The front wall of each igloo consists of 10-inch thick, steel-reinforced concrete with a vented steel door. The structure is equipped with a rear vent and lightning protection. Each igloo has a number of security features to protect the chemical weapons. These features range from a large concrete block positioned in front of the igloo door to a sophisticated intrusion detection system.

These "igloos" are in a high-security area behind multiple wire razor fences with an around-the-clock armed security force authorized to use deadly force. The three liquid chemical agents are stored in differing types of munitions. The agents are primarily contained in 155mm and eight-inch projectiles as well as M55 115mm rockets. The rockets contain either GB or VX agent and are fully assembled with agent, bursting charges, rocket propellant, rocket motors and igniters.

The chemical stockpile is monitored daily. Each day, emergency response plans are relayed to the Madison County Emergency Management Agency and the state Emergency Operations Center. The plan factors in the location of the work, the type of munitions and the local weather conditions.

Each igloo containing M55 rockets is monitored once a week by sampling the inside atmosphere of the igloo. This sample must be free of any trace of agent before the doors can be opened. On a rotating basis, more thorough sampling takes place as an air sample is drawn from the storage tube of an individual rocket. Chemical detection plays an extremely important part in the monitoring of the chemical stockpile and the sophisticated equipment used can detect samples well below the hazardous level.

The Operation Control Point or OCP is a decontamination point where, in case of a chemical accident, everyone who was in an area of contamination is cleaned after leaving the chemical limited area. It is equipped to handle all types of decontamination and this is where the doctor and his medical staff triage and treat the patients. The operation control point also controls entry to and exit from the chemical limited area during emergencies.

Should alarms sound or Activity chemists report a positive reading, an emergency response team is immediately activated. Workers leave the igloo, which is sealed and an air filtration system designed to remove agent is started. Most leaks of chemicals are detected at a level that is less than the amount that would come from a short burst of bug spray dispersed evenly inside a 2,000-square-foot home.

The portion of Garrard County that falls within the Blue Grass Army Depot protective action zone (PAZ) includes the communities of Buckeye, McCreary, Paint Lick and Cartersville.

Similar to its stockpile counterparts at seven other sites across the continental United States and on Johnston Atoll in the Pacific, BGCA stores chemical weapons until they can be safely disposed as part of the Army's Chemical Stockpile Disposal Project. Chemical weapons have been stored at Blue Grass since 1944, with shipment of more modern chemical agent and weapons arriving until the mid-sixties. Blue Grass stores 523 tons, approximately 1.7 percent, of the original US stockpile of chemical weapons. The stockpile consists of projectiles and rockets containing nerve agents GB (Sarin) and VX, and mustard or blister agent.

Projectiles come in two sizes and can contain one of three different agents. The projectiles shown are 8 inch and hold GB, a nerve agent. 155mm projectiles (identical in appearance, just a tad smaller) may have VX nerve agent or mustard, a blister agent designed to incapacitate. Some of the projectiles contain explosive charges. There are about 30,000 projectiles in the BGCA stockpile. M55, 115mm, rockets have either GB or VX nerve agent. There are about 70,000 of these highly explosive, assembled chemical weapons stored at Blue Grass Chemical Activity. These rockets present the greatest risk associated with the storage of chemical weapons.

Previously, as with four other sites in Utah, Oregon, Alabama and Arkansas, the U.S. Army had planned to construct a state-of-the-art incinerator at Blue Grass Chemical Activity to eliminate the stockpile. In an ongoing effort to ensure the Army is using the best disposal technology available, a congressional mandate in December 1996, established the Assembled Chemical Weapons Assessment program to examine the destruction of assembled chemical weapons, such as bombs and missiles, currently stored at stockpile sites across the United States. Congress funded $40 million to identify and demonstrate not less than two technologies for the destruction of assembled chemical weapons. Congress also withheld funds for construction of the Blue Grass Chemical Agent Disposal Facility until 180 days after the Army reports to Congress on the results of this assessment. The Army currently is assessing viable alternative technologies other than incineration to dispose of chemical weapons at Blue Grass. Until this assessment is complete, the Army's plans to construct an incinerator at Blue Grass are on hold.

    AGENT        ITEM                   QUANTITY   POUNDS
    HD-Blister   155mm Projectiles      15,492     181,260
    GB-Nerve     8-inch Projectiles      3,977      57,660
    GB-Nerve     M55 Rockets            51,716     553,360
    GB-Nerve     M56 Rocket Warheads        24         260
    VX-Nerve     155mm Projectiles      12,816      76,900
    VX-Nerve     M55 Rockets            17,733     177,340
    VX-Nerve     M56 Rocket Warheads         6          60

    Acreage        				14,596 
    Structures     				1,207
    	901 Igloos (852 conventional ammunition)
    	20  Ammunition/Chemical Defense Equipment Warehouses
    	11 Maintenance Buildings
    Warehouse Storage (sq feet) 		1,005,062
    Ammunition Storage (sq feet)		2,187,218
    Family Housing				2
    Miles of Road				152
    Miles of Railroad Track			40


  • Explosive reclamation and reuse from projectiles, mines, bombs and warheads

  • Army's major source for Chemical Defense Equipment
  • Testing, inspection and repair
  • Demilitarization

  • Resource, recovery, recycle, washout (APE 1300)
  • Open burn
  • Deactivation Furnace (APE 1236)
  • Open detonation
  • Flashing/incineration
  • Mechanical pull apart

  • Renovate all types of munitions (small arms to large bombs)

  • Testing and measurement
  • Inspections - rocket motor continuity, all conventional ammunition, small missiles and rockets, toxic chemical munitions, all Mil-Q-9858/Mil-I-45208
  • Calibration measuring devices
  • X-Ray inspection
  • CAD/CAM drawing
  • Surface grinding/sand blasting
  • Milling/sawing/turning
  • CNC machines
  • Tool & gauge manufacturing


  • Mechanical and fabricated parts
  • Electrical/Electronic
  • Cable manufacturing/testing
  • Etching/silk screening/stenciling
  • Metal shearing/metal photo
  • Mil-Standard painting
  • Pressing/punching
  • Welding (conventional, mig, tig, sub arc)
  • Prototype design and manufacturing
  • Aircraft modification kits
  • Van/shelter modifications
  • Air transportable galley
  • Design/development of specialized test equipment and aircraft simulators


  • RTMS and ACAMS
  • M8/M8A1 chemical alarms
  • M40/M74 test sets
  • Chemical protective clothing
  • Mask test and evaluation equipment
  • Biopak rebreather
  • Low density C-E equipment
  • Rubber watercraft
  • M6A1 air filtration system
  • Chemical defense test equipment

Visitors to the Blue Grass Chemical Activity must go through this security gate. All visitors must provide identification to enter the installation.

Blue Grass Chemical Activity has a restricted area where the 523 tons, or 1.7% of the nation's original stockpile of chemical weapons are being stored. There are multiple security measures to protect the weapons. At the Blue Grass Chemical Activity, the stockpile is kept in a secure, restricted area which covers one-square kilometer.

Warning signs are posted along the perimeter of the 250-acre chemical weapons storage area at the Blue Grass Chemical Activity. The signs warn against unauthorized entry to this restricted area.

Visitors to the Blue Grass Chemical Activity must pass through this revolving gate. Visitors then exchange a security badge for a special restricted area badge.

At the Blue Grass Chemical Activity, the stockpile is kept in a secure, restricted area which covers one-square kilometer. The entire area is surrounded by two fences that are topped with coiled concertina wire.

Blue Grass Chemical Activity stores 523 tons of chemical weapons in earth-covered igloos. At the activity, forty-five igloos are dedicated to storing chemical weapons.

Blue Grass Chemical Activity uses igloos to store chemical weapons. The projectiles and rockets contain nerve agents GB and VX, as well as mustard agent.

Blue Grass Chemical Activity uses igloos to store chemical weapons. The projectiles and rockets contain nerve agents GB and VX, as well as mustard agent.

This igloo was constructed in 1942 from a design that dates back to the Civil War. The igloo is 80 feet long, 25 feet wide and 15 feet high. One end has a solid concrete facing with a steel door and a heat-fusible outside vent (heat melts the link, so the vent will slam shut). The igloo is constructed of a concrete shell, one-foot thick at the bottom and slightly thinner at the top. This allows any potential explosion to go up, not out. The sides, now unsupported, would collapse inward on top of any resulting fire, helping to control it. The concrete shell is covered with at least two feet of earth. Of course, each igloo has dual lightning rods for further protection. At the top rear is a vent which can be sealed. Aside from monitoring the igloos for entry, each igloo is monitored on a regular schedule.

BRAC 2005

Secretary of Defense Recommendation: Close the Richmond US Army Reserve Center, Maysville US Army Reserve Center and relocate and consolidate those units with Army Reserve units currently on Bluegrass Army Depot into a new Armed Forces Reserve Center (AFRC) and Field Maintenance Facility (FMS) on Blue Grass Army Depot, KY. The new AFRC shall have the capability to accommodate Kentucky National Guard units located on Bluegrass Army Depot, KY, if the state decides to relocate those National Guard units.

Secretary of Defense Justifications: This recommendation transforms Reserve Component facilities throughout the State of Kentucky. The implementation of this recommendation will enhance military value, improve homeland defense capability, greatly improve training and deployment capability, create significant efficiencies and cost savings, and is consistent with the Army's force structure plans and Army transformational objectives.

This recommendation is the result of a state-wide analysis of Reserve Component installations and facilities conducted by a team of functional experts from Headquarters, Department of the Army, the Office of the State Adjutant General, and the Army Reserve Regional Readiness Command.

This recommendation closes four Army Reserve Centers throughout the state of Kentucky and constructs two multicomponent, multifunctional Armed Forces Reserve Centers, and two Field Maintenance Shops capable of accommodating National Guard and Reserve units. This recommendation reduces military manpower and associated costs for maintaining existing facilities by collapsing seven geographically separated facilities into two modern Armed Forces Reserve Centers. This recommendation reduces the number of separate DoD installations by relocating to an existing base. The Department understands that the State of Kentucky will close the Blue Grass Station and the Paducah Army National Guard Readiness Centers and the Kentucky Army National Guard Organizational Maintenance Shop, Paducah, KY. The Armed Forces Reserve Centers will have the capability to accommodate these units if the state decides to relocate the units from these closed facilities into the new AFRCs.

This recommendation considered feasible locations within the demographic and geographic areas of the closing facilities and affected units. The site selected was determined as the best location because it optimizes the Reserve Components' ability to recruit and retain Reserve Component soldiers and to train and mobilize units affected by this recommendation.

This recommendation provides the opportunity for other Local, State, or Federal organizations to partner with the Reserve Components to enhance homeland security and homeland defense at a reduced cost to those agencies.

Although not captured in the COBRA analysis, this recommendation avoids an estimated $5.8M in mission facility renovation costs and procurement avoidances associated with meeting AT/FP construction standards and altering existing facilities to meet unit training and communications requirements. Consideration of these avoided costs would reduce costs and increase the net savings to the Department of Defense in the 6-year BRAC implementation period and in the 20-year period used to calculate NPV.

Community Concerns: Only one community comment was received for all of the 39 RC Transformation recommendations. A political leader argued that the Maysville USAR Center in Maysville, KY, should not be closed on the grounds that closure would increase commuting time and distance for soldiers assigned to that unit.

Commission Findings: The Commission found no reason to disagree with the recommendation of the Secretary of Defense. In addition, the Community concerns were carefully weighed and considered, but the Commission found they did not rise to the level of a substantial deviation.

Commission Recommendations The Commission found the Secretary's recommendation consistent with the final selection criteria and force structure plan. Therefore, the Commission approved the recommendation of the Secretary.

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Page last modified: 24-07-2011 03:41:14 ZULU