Propellant Destruction


#1

Something I ran across today: yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.ns … 8000596255
I would think there are many ways this propellant could be used beneficially. I can hardly believe that it is so “unstable” to preclude any other use (reprocessing, use as a sensitizer in slurry mining and quarrying explosives, etc.) Wasn’t there some sort of explosion at Minden several years ago?


#2

Disposal by open burning? One would guess that environmental protection should be a factor here.


#3

Did a search of M6 military propellant and that case is on the first few pages of searches. Yes, normally it can be reused in slurries like those we use for blasting, but after seeing the pictures of how it was stored in the open being exposed to the sun and the elements it’s not hard to imagine that it would be unstable. If they were breaking down bag charges for 155s and such, there is no telling how they stored the initiator bags, which contain a 3.5 to 4 ounce charge of NC powder that is small grain like pistol powder (called Clean Burning Initiator or CBI) and a black powder patch of about an ounce of canon grade BP. We had a company around here that I would visit that did work of the same kind, though they were very conscious of proper storage. They had a chemist who would constantly check the batches to ensure that the stabilizers were still good in the powder. From what I remember, he was a very busy man. Once NC goes unstable, there’s not much you can do with it but destroy it. Cheers, Bruce.


#4

Yes, NC Powders become unstable once Nitric Acid decomposition begins ( Moisture and NC combine to return the NC to a Nitric acid and Cellulose Hydrate Mix; the “stabilizers” added to the NC
also decompose under action of the Nitric acid, and several chemical reactions occur, leading to the possibility of Spontaneous combustion, especially if the ambient temperature is High.

If this situation can occur in a One-Pound tin of old Rifle Powder, it can certainly occur in Charge Bags of Artillery Powder.

Whilst Stable Powders can ( and Often are) made into Nitrate Fertiliser ( not a cost-effective operation) or can be “reworked” into more valuable Rifle/Pistol Powders, or used in Industrial slurry explosives, the safest method of disposal is Open Air Burning of controlled amounts, spread out to prevent a concentrated “explosion” ( Flame Ball).

Back after WW I and II, the quickest method of disposal of “old” explosives was Davey Jones’s Locker…find a deep area of ocean, and dump the stuff.

Doc AV
Firearms and Ammunition Examiner ( ret’d)


#5

I assume you are referring to the “Indiana Ordnance Works” company which operates a powder reclamation facility on the grounds of the old Indiana Army Ammunition Plant in Charlestown, IN, sort of across the Ohio River from you. They break down surplus military powder charges, and sell the powder to Orica, Inc. which operates a slurry blasting agent manufacturing facility nearby, also on the grounds of the former Indiana Army Ammunition Plant.


#6

DennisK, That would be it. The company I worked for had space leased on the INAAP and bought a lot from Orica. We had some dealings with the folks at Indiana Ordnance Works and tried to find a use for the CBI. Here shortly the entire installation will be turned back over to, I guess, the state of Indiana for development. Orica and a lot of the other tenants will have to find somewhere else to operate. Cheers, Bruce.


#7

That area, I think, was turned over some years ago to River Ridge Development (the LDA, or Local Development Authority) and sold for industrial and business development. Orica and IOW may own the property they occupy. But I could be wrong. I believe most of the main smokeless powder manufacturing area has now been decontaminated and about ready to be turned over to River Ridge, if that hasn’t happened already. It’s going to be an enormous job to demolish all those thousands of buildings, which will probably take many years. One problems is that Kentuckiana Rail Car has a very long-term lease on the many miles of railroad tracks on the plant, and that will complicate things.