The U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) was awarded the Director of Army Safety Risk Management Award on March 19 for their contribution to the vital mission of protecting the Warfighter and the nation against the global threat of chemical and biological warfare.
This is the first Army-level win for ECBC, which recognized one of the most visible and successful missions in recent history: destroying 600 metric tons of Syria’s declared chemical agent stockpile aboard the MV Cape Ray last summer.
The mission was two years in the making and used the ECBC-developed neutralization technology called the Field Deployable Hydrolysis System (FDHS). Safety was a critical component of the mission, which was completed in just 42 days without any reportable accidents or releases to the environment.
“The coordination and effort put into the planning and execution of the mission was extremely thorough and required complete dedication from our team. Safety is a guiding principal at ECBC and we work diligently to ensure that every scenario is considered, every risk addressed and all the necessary controls put into place,” said Jennifer Sollenberger, SHO manager.
Historically, the Director of Army Safety Risk Management Award is a difficult award to win. Multiple awards can be presented through the Army world to individuals or organizations that demonstrate outstanding performance in the field of Risk Management.
For the chemical weapons destruction mission, ECBC safety team members worked tirelessly to create the proper safety plans, considering all potential risks. Upon testing the FDHS as design moved forward, they spent hours conducting multiple trials for the land-based system, only to find out later that the FDHS would have to be retrofitted to operate on a 648-foot-long container ship. Countless sea trials were conducted with the crew spending months out in open waters addressing each and every possible angle. Through each step, safety remained the primary concern.
In August of 2014 the crew arrived back home in the United States, with the success of destroying tons of chemical weapons and only a few very minor day-to-day type injuries to report, all of which were immediately followed by a “lessons learned report” after each incident.
“The credit for this award belongs to all those who contributed to the Cape Ray mission. They should be extremely proud of themselves; I am. They safely destroyed massive amounts of chemical weapons, a remarkable achievement,” Sollenberger said.