Pentagon Raises Concerns About Design Of Weapons Destruction Site

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - The Pentagon has raised questions about the design of a proposed building that would destroy Kentucky's stockpile of chemical weapons, and the concerns threaten to delay construction of the project.

Concrete was expected to be poured this summer at the munitions demilitarization building, the primary facility at Blue Grass Army Depot in Richmond where Cold War-era rockets and other lethal weapons are set to be destroyed by 2017 to comply with an international treaty.

But John Schlatter, spokesman for Bechtel Parsons Bluegrass, the company in charge of the construction project, said Monday that timetable may have hit a snag after a Pentagon agency questioned the design of a room in the building that must be able to withstand an explosion.

The Defense Department Explosive Safety Board told the company last week that it can't accept the plans in their current form because they rely on a relatively new design regarding how the steel beams holding the concrete are connected.

Executives from the company expect to meet with the board this spring to discuss the engineering, Schlatter said. If the plans aren't approved by June, construction could be delayed indefinitely, he said.

"We're not going to do anything to sacrifice the safety," Schlatter said. "If there is ever a choice between safety and schedule, safety is the thing that wins out."

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