Deconstruction of aging chemical weapons set to begin at Madison Co. plant in 2019

MADISON COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - It’s been nearly ten years since construction began at a Madison County plant designed to help the U.S. get rid of more than 500 tons of chemical weapons.

That construction is complete tonight, and the weapons are at the Bluegrass Army Depot where some have sat for decades. They’ll soon be neutralized right here in central Kentucky.

The goal is to crack into, and chemically neutralize, the deadly liquids within the abandoned rockets and mortars, some of which date back to World War I.

Some of the weapons are so old that the nerve and mustard agents in them turned to solid form, or the weapons simply rusted over. These will have to be blown up in a special chamber that just finished its construction phase.

Wednesday, project managers held a public meeting, giving updates on the plant that is set to begin weapon destruction in 2019.

The Kentucky plant hopes to get to work soon, but all equipment and employees must first pass the testing phase.

"We're deep into what we call the systematization phase. That's where we test all of the equipment. We hire, train and certify the plant operators,” site project manager Jeff Brubaker said.

The next public meeting is set for September 12. At that point we could learn more on when exactly the plant will start operating.

The plant is also looking to hire an additional 400 employees before operations begin next year.