The U.S. Army will use a state-of-the-art system to destroy 10 WWI- and WWII-era munitions at Schofield Barracks later this month.
The chemical munitions were recovered between 2009 and 2012 during range clearance activities.
“The Army no longer uses these types of munitions,” said Col. Richard Fromm, commander, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, “However, as a matter of safety and environmental stewardship, we have a responsibility to ensure that when we find these types of historic munitions, we also safely destroy them.”
“Those items were assessed, determined to be chemical-filled and we are here to destroy those items using the Explosive Destruction System,” said Rob Snyder, Schofield Explosive Destruction System site manager. “These items are irritants that were designed to be non-persistent but they immediately are vaporized into the air.”
Snyder says the EDS is able to treat and destroy the munitions in a contained, environmentally sound manner, and will do so over a two-week period.
“Explosives are connected to the item, the item is then placed inside the vessel, the vessel door is closed and sealed, it is remotely detonated. The purpose of that detonation is simply to open up the item and expose it to the neutralent, the reagent that will be applied to the item and also to remove and destroy any explosives that exist in that item as well,” Snyder explained.
This is the second time the Army has brought a system to Hawaii to destroy recovered chemical munitions. In 2008, the Army used a similar system to successfully destroy 71 munitions containing the same type of chemical fills.
Both efforts involved extensive Army coordination with local, state and federal agencies, to include the Department of Health and Human Services, the Hawaii State Department of Health, and local emergency responders and health care providers, in order to ensure safe, coordinated efforts.
All waste resulting from the operation will be shipped off island to a permitted treatment, storage and disposal facility, per applicable laws and regulations, on the continental U.S.