Review of Preliminary Hazard Analyses for Chemical Demilitarization Options Case Study


The Challenge

Chemical weapons produced by the US military must be demilitarized by international treaty. Since some of these weapons are old, they must be demilitarized at the sites where they are currently stored to avoid potential releases during transportation. Existing technology for chemical weapon demilitarization is using incineration. However, local community concerns regarding vapor emissions required the search for alternate technologies to demilitarize chemical weapons. Three new technologies were selected for evaluation. Each new technology has its own unique safety concerns, and each had to demonstrate that their technology was “as safe as incineration”.

Our Approach

Since each technology provider was required to conduct a preliminary hazard analysis (PHA) and make recommendations to reduce risk to tolerable levels, we focused our review of their PHAs on the inherent safety of each technology. The major areas considered in the review included: potential for chemical agent release, potential for fire or explosion, potential for exposure to process chemicals, extent of manual operation, equipment maintenance requirements, and technical risk. For each major process area, the inherent safety of each new technology was compared to incineration.

The Benefits

Our inherent safety review revealed that two of the three proposed technologies had an equivalent level of inherent safety compared to incineration, while the other would require significant modification to achieve an equivalent level of inherent safety. This information along with evaluations of design, cost, and schedule were used to select the best technology for development.

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