Workers in Kentucky have separated 42 sets of engine components from nerve-agent rockets left from the Cold War, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports.
The development — announced on Thursday by the operator of the Blue Grass Army Depot — was part of an analysis to determine possible hazards such materials could pose as they are destroyed.
The findings may help the Army decide if it will carry out the elimination process inside the still-unfinished Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant. Depot personnel could alternately complete the procedure at another on-site location.
The separation process occurred “safely and without incident,” the Blue Grass Chemical Activity said in released comments. The final M-55 rocket separation took place on Tuesday, the office noted in its statement.
Twenty-three of the separated engine parts are slated for delivery to New Jersey, where they would undergo assessment at the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center at Picatinny Arsenal. The Army depot in Kentucky is expected to retain the other 19 components for review at a later date.
The nerve-agent warheads were individually packaged and placed in housing designed to prevent any leaked contents from escaping into the environment.
The United States has already eliminated most of its chemical-weapons stockpile in compliance with provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention. It completed similar rocket-separation procedures as part of destruction operations at two other sites: the Umatilla Chemical Depot in Oregon and the Pine Bluff Arsenal in Arkansas.