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Chemical weapons to be contained in new Depot facility

MADISON COUNTY, Ky. -- One of the largest construction projects in the state is happening in Central Kentucky. Protected by armed guards and high fences, the almost two-billion dollar building project is unlike anything else in the Commonwealth.

WKYT's Sam Dick investigated the Blue Grass Depot for an inside look at the place where hundreds of tons of chemical weapons go to die.

The depot holds five hundred and twenty-three tons of dangerous chemical weapons, designed decades ago for war. Such as mustard gas -- a blister agent -- and GB or sarin gas, and VX gas -- both nerve agents aimed at attacking the bodies central nervous system.

Chemical weapons working group member Craig Williams told us, "Both of those central nervous agents can be thought of as bug spray for humans."

All of it is stored at the Blue Grass Army Depot in Madison County on nearly 15-thousand acres. The weapons have long outlived their use on the battle field, and for years the military demanded it all be destroyed by incineration.

Later the Pentagon agreed to have the chemical weapons neutralized on site. In 2009, construction began on this three-story weapon destruction building, at a cost of almost two-billion dollars. It is now about sixty-percent finished, with walls two-and-a-half feet thick.

They're built to withstand a blast or chemical leak.

"If there was an unexpected detonation," Williams said, "the effects of that pressure, the shrapnel, as well as the release of the agent, would totally be contained within the structure."

But even when the weapon's destruction building is completed in mid 2015, it will be years before the weapons are destroyed here. Start up teams will have to test every system to make sure it works right...and safely.

By the year 2023, if all goes to plan, the job should be done, and then everything associated with the chemical weapon neutralization, will be destroyed. Will the aging chemical weapons last long enough to meet their end?


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