Alternatives for the Demilitarization
of Conventional Munitions
Committee on Alternatives for the Demilitarization of Conventional Munitions
Board on Army Science and Technology
Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences
A Consensus Study Report of
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Suggested citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Alternatives for the Demilitarization of Conventional Munitions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: https://doi.org/10.17226/25140.
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COMMITTEE ON ALTERNATIVES FOR THE DEMILITARIZATION OF CONVENTIONAL MUNITIONS
TODD A. KIMMELL, Argonne National Laboratory, Washington, D.C., Chair
DOUGLAS M. MEDVILLE, Independent Consultant, Highlands Ranch, Colorado, Vice Chair
JUDITH A. BRADBURY, Independent Consultant, Knoxville, Tennessee
GAIL CHARNLEY, HealthRisk Strategies, LLC, Washington, D.C.
HEREK L. CLACK, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
DEBORAH L. GRUBBE, Operations and Safety Solutions, LLC, Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania
REBECCA A. HAFFENDEN, Argonne National Laboratory Associate, Santa Fe, New Mexico
PETER R. JAFFE, Princeton University, New Jersey
RICHARD S. MAGEE, New Jersey Corporation for Advanced Technology (NJCAT), Hoboken
JAMES P. PASTORICK, Independent Consultant, Alexandria, Virginia
SETH P. TULER, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Massachusetts
WILLIAM J. WALSH, Clark Hill, PLC, Washington, D.C.
LAWRENCE J. WASHINGTON, Independent Consultant, Midland, Michigan
BRUCE BRAUN, Director, Board on Army Science and Technology
JAMES C. MYSKA, Program Officer, Study Director
GREG EYRING, Senior Program Officer
NIA D. JOHNSON, Senior Research Associate
DEANNA SPARGER, Program Administrative Coordinator
BOARD ON ARMY SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
DAVID M. MADDOX (GEN, U.S. Army, retired), NAE,1 Independent Consultant, Arlington, Virginia, Chair
SCOTT BADENOCH, Badenoch, LLC, Southfield, Michigan
STEVEN W. BOUTELLE (LTG, U.S. Army, retired), Independent Consultant, Arlington, Virginia
CARL A. CASTRO, Center for Innovation and Research and Military Families, University of Southern California, Los Angeles
DAVID E. CROW, NAE, University of Connecticut, Glastonbury
REGINALD DESROCHES, Rice University, Houston, Texas
FRANCIS J. DOYLE III, NAM,2 Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
JULIA D. ERDLEY, Pennsylvania State University, State College
LESTER A. FOSTER, Electronic Warfare Associates, Herndon, Virginia
JAMES A. FREEBERSYSER, BBN Technology, St. Louis Park, Minnesota
PETER N. FULLER (MG, U.S. Army, retired), Cypress International, Alexandria, Virginia
R. JOHN HANSMAN, NAE, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge
J. SEAN HUMBERT, University of Colorado, Boulder
JOHN W. HUTCHINSON, NAS3/NAE, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
JENNIE HWANG, NAE, H-Technologies Group, Cleveland, Ohio
JOHN JOANNOPOULOS, NAS, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge
ERIC T. MATSON, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana
ROGER L. McCARTHY, NAE, McCarthy Engineering, Palo Alto, California
MICHAEL McGRATH, McGrath Analytics, LLC, Reston, Virginia
ALLAN T. MENSE, Raytheon Missile Systems, Tucson, Arizona
WALTER F. MORRISON, WFM Consulting, Alexandria, Virginia
DANIEL PODOLSKY, NAM, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas
KENNETH M. ROSEN, NAE, General Aero-Science Consultants, LLC, Guilford, Connecticut
ALBERT A. SCIARRETTA, CNS Technologies, Inc., Springfield, Virginia
NEIL SIEGEL, NAE, Northrop Grumman Information Systems, Carson, California
MICHAEL A. VANE (LTG, U.S. Army, retired), Independent Consultant, Shaver Lake, California
BRUCE A. BRAUN, Director
CHRIS JONES, Financial Manager
DEANNA P. SPARGER, Program Administrative Coordinator
1 Member, National Academy of Engineering.
2 Member, National Academy of Medicine.
3 Member, National Academy of Sciences.
I have been on a number of National Academies committees, all of which have been challenging. This committee has been different in many respects. First, it is congressionally mandated, which puts it on a higher level of visibility. That aside, the subject matter delves into an area that has been controversial for many years—from the perspective of the public, regulators, and the military. Open burning/open detonation (OB/OD) of excess, obsolete, or unserviceable munitions has been a common disposal practice for decades, even centuries. It is quick, relatively straightforward, and relatively inexpensive. Although there have been safety incidents, it can also be conducted safely. The downside, as can be deduced from the word “open” is that OB/OD releases contaminants into the environment. During my observations of OB/OD operations at many locations, thick plumes of smoke and particulates are quite visible during these operations. Public interest groups have been opposed to OB/OD operations for years.
Yet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the states have issued permits under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) for a number of OB/OD operations, and several permits are still pending. In order for a facility to receive an RCRA permit, the operation must be shown to be protective of human health and the environment—a statutory requirement of RCRA. This would lead one to believe that OB/OD can be conducted in a manner that, according to environmental regulatory agencies, is protective of human health and the environment. The permits, however, are accompanied by many restrictions, all of which limit what can be treated, when it can be treated, how it can be treated, and the rate of treatment. They also contain extensive monitoring requirements. Many hazardous waste cleanup sites exist across the United States, and the contamination as a result of OB/OD operations is well documented. But most, if not all, of these are pre-RCRA “legacy sites” operated without the restrictions we see in RCRA permits today.
On the other hand, there are new and emerging technologies for the demilitarization of conventional munitions, which consist mostly of some type of contained burning (CB) or contained detonation (CD). Recycling and recovery are also employed, as are other technologies. These technologies, by their nature, limit the release of constituents into the environment to a relatively small amount. CB/CD technologies are more environmentally acceptable—RCRA permits for their operation carry fewer restrictions as compared to OB/OD. Like OB/OD, CB/CD can also be conducted safely, but there is an increased risk to workers due to additional handling requirements associated with many of the alternatives. Public interest groups will always favor CB/CD over OB/OD. The primary downside of most of the available CB/CD technologies is cost and throughput. And considering the huge inventory of munitions maintained by the military that is destined for destruction, cost and throughput become very important considerations, especially when you consider that EPA and the States maintain that permitted OB/OD operations are safe for human health and the environment.
I would like to thank the U.S. Army and the product director for demilitarization, Department of Defense representatives and staff, EPA and the state regulators, and Army contractors that provided input to the committee’s deliberations and accommodated its numerous inquiries. I also want to thank the vendors of alternative technologies that addressed the committee and responded to its inquiries. My thanks also to representatives of the public interest groups that addressed the committee as well, including California Communities Against Toxics, the Cease Fire Campaign, and Environmental Patriots of the New River Valley, for offering
their perspectives on the issues. I would also like to thank Senator Tammy Baldwin and her staff for their input and direction during the conduct of the study. I must also thank the staff of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine for their tireless and outstanding support, especially Bruce Braun, Jim Myska, Greg Eyring, Nia Johnson, and Deanna Sparger. I also thank the committee members for putting up with my challenging schedule, onerous demands, and my dry and only sometimes witty sense of humor. Last, I must offer my very sincere thanks to Committee Vice Chair
Doug Medville for his dedication, perseverance, and attention to detail. It was often hard to tell who was the chair and who was the vice chair. Thank you, Doug!
Todd A. Kimmell, Chair
Committee on Alternatives for the Demilitarization of Conventional Munitions
Acknowledgment of Reviewers
This Consensus Study Report was reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in making each published report as sound as possible and to ensure that it meets the institutional standards for quality, objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process.
We thank the following individuals for their review of this report:
Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations of this report nor did they see the final draft before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Hyla S. Napadensky, retired vice president, Napadensky Energetics, Inc. She was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with the standards of the National Academies and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content rests entirely with the authoring committee and the National Academies.
1 Member, National Academy of Engineering.
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Overview of the Conventional Demilitarization Enterprise
Overview of Demilitarization Technologies
Transition from OB/OD to CB/CD
The Importance of Considering Regulatory Policy, Health and Safety Concerns, and Public Confidence
Committee Meetings and Presentations
2 AN OVERVIEW OF THE U.S. ARMY DEMILITARIZATION PROGRAM, THE DEMILITARIZATION STOCKPILE, AND FACTORS BEARING ON THE PROGRAM
The Demilitarization Stockpile
Munitions Input into the Demilitarization Stockpile by Fiscal Year (Tons)
End-of-Year Demilitarization Stockpile by Fiscal Year (Tons)
Demilitarization Program Funding
Demilitarization Program Operations
Demilitarization Program Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation
Army Conventional Demilitarization Public Affairs Program
Demilitarization Technologies Used to Treat the Stockpile
Munitions Demilitarized Organically by Open Burning or Open Detonation
Recovery, Recycling, and Reuse
Munitions Demilitarized Organically by Alternative Technologies
Capabilities of the Demilitarization Industrial Base
Materials Containing or Contaminated with Energetics
3 REVIEW OF CONVENTIONAL OPEN BURNING/OPEN DETONATION TECHNOLOGIES
Components of Environmental and Public Health Concern
Overview of Open Burning and Open Detonation
4 REVIEW OF CANDIDATE ALTERNATIVE TECHNOLOGIES
Disassembly and Size Reduction
Controlled Detonation Chamber (CDC)
Explosive Destruction System (EDS)
Detonation of Ammunition in a Vacuum Integrated Chamber (DAVINCH)
Contained Burn and Rocket and Missile Motor Firing Chambers
A Large Contained Burn System Application: Camp Minden, Louisiana
Contained Firing of Rocket and Missile Motors
A Large Rocket Motor Contained Burn Application: Ammonium Perchlorate Rocket Motor Destruction (ARMD) Facility
Static Detonation Chamber (SDC)
Deactivation Furnaces/Rotary Kiln Incinerators
Explosive Waste Incinerator (EWI)
Bulk Energetics Disposal System (BEDS)
Nonincineration Energetics Destruction Technologies
Industrial Supercritical Water Oxidation (iSCWO)
Stationary Base Hydrolysis Oxidation
Thermal Decontamination of Munitions Scrap
Flashing Furnace/Contaminated Waste Processor
Other Destruction Technologies
Permitability or Other Approvals
6 REGULATORY REQUIREMENTS APPLICABLE TO OPEN BURNING, OPEN DETONATION, AND ALTERNATIVE TECHNOLOGIES
Application of RCRA to OB/OD and Alternative Technologies
Treatment Units Exempt from RCRA Permitting Requirements
Treatment, Storage, and Disposal Facility (TSDF) Closure
Changing Regulatory Environment
7 APPLICABILITY OF TREATMENT TYPES TO MUNITIONS AND ENERGETIC TYPES
Munitions Suitable for Alternative Treatment
Munitions Not Suitable for Demilitarization Using Either OB/OD or Alternative Technologies
8 COMPARATIVE ASSESSMENT OF DEMILITARIZATION TECHNOLOGIES
Alternative Technologies Evaluated
Technologies That May Be Used to Replace OB
Technologies That May Be Used to Replace OD
CB Technologies That May Be Used to Replace Both OB and OD
Industrial Capabilities as Alternatives to OB/OD
Explanation of OB/OD and Comparable Technologies Ratings
9 BARRIERS AND OTHER CONSIDERATIONS
Other Considerations That Could Impact the Full-Scale Deployment of Alternative Technologies
Lack of a Formal Plan to Transition to Alternative Technologies
B Cease Fire! Campaign Technology Criteria
D Public Concerns About Open Burning/Open Detonation and Alternative Demilitarization Options
E Committee Biographical Information
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Tables, Figures, and Box
2.1 The FY2017 Demilitarization RDT&E Project Scoring and Ranking for 21 Funded Projects
2.2 Incidents Associated with OB/OD and Alternative Demilitarization Technologies from 2004 to 2017
4.1 Examples of Munitions That Can Be Processed in the SDC
6.1 RCRA-Permitted Alternative Technologies at Army Stockpile Facilities
7.1 Stable Dispensers with Shaped Charges (Projectiles and Bombs) Currently Demilitarized Using OB and OD and Example Applicable Alternative Technologies
7.2 Stable Gun Propellant Currently Demilitarized Using OB and OD and Example Applicable Alternative Technologies
7.3 Stable Rocket Motors Currently Demilitarized Using OB and OD and Example Applicable Alternative Technologies
7.4 Stable Mortars Currently Demilitarized Using OB and OD and Example Applicable Alternative Technologies
7.5 Stable High-Explosive Projectiles, Bombs, and Warheads Currently Demilitarized Using OB and OD and Example Applicable Alternative Technologies
7.6 Stable Fuzes Currently Demilitarized Using OB and OD and Example Applicable Alternative Technologies
7.7 Stable Miscellaneous Munitions Currently Demilitarized Using OB and OD and Example Applicable Alternative Technologies
7.8 Sample of Munitions Identified As “Capability Gaps” and Possible Existing Alternative Treatments
8.1 Summary of CB and CD Demilitarization Technologies That Can Be Used to Replace OB or OD
8.2 Comparison of OB and Technology Alternatives to OB
8.3 Comparison of OD and Technology Alternatives to OD
2.1 Executive responsibility for demilitarization of the stockpile of excess, obsolete, and unserviceable munitions rests with the Army’s PD Demil
2.2 The total weights of conventional munitions, rockets, and missiles in the demilitarization stockpile as of September 30, 2017
2.3 Major demilitarization stockpile munitions in tons
2.4 Rocket and missile input (by number) into the demilitarization stockpile by fiscal year, compared with the number that had been planned for
2.5 Munitions input (in tons) into the demilitarization stockpile by fiscal year, compared with the amount that had been planned for
2.6 End-of-fiscal-year munitions and missile stockpiles, FY2008-FY2017
2.7 Army conventional stockpile and demilitarization locations in the continental United States
2.8 Demilitarization program funding, FY2008-FY2018
2.9 Funding allocation for various aspects of the demilitarization program budget in FY2017 and FY2018
2.10 Alternatives for disposition of excess munitions prior to entering the demilitarization stockpile
2.11 Schematic diagram of the database Demilitarization Optimizer tool
2.12 The decision process for determining the annual demilitarization plan for stockpile munitions
2.13 Research, development, testing, and evaluation project selection process
3.1 An open burn operation at the Hawthorne Army Ammunition Depot
3.2 An open burn operation at Letterkenny Munitions Center
3.3 Static firing (a form of OB) of Shrike rocket motors at Letterkenny Munitions Center
3.4 An open detonation at Letterkenny Munitions Center
3.5 Technicians prepare bombs for venting (a form of OD) at the Crane Army Ammunition Activity
3.6 Vented bombs at Crane Army Ammunition Activity
4.1 Camp Minden contained burn system
4.2 ARMD thermal treatment chamber
4.3 Static Detonation Chamber (SDC)
4.5 APE 1236M2 and pollution abatement system
7.1 Cutaway of DODIC D563 projectile containing submunitions (grenades)