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Federal money earmarked for munitions supply facility at Blue Grass Army Depot

Entrance sign to the Blue Grass Army Depot in Madison County
Stu Johnson
Entrance sign to the Blue Grass Army Depot in Madison County

Updated on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023 at 12:17 p.m.

The United States Senate has earmarked $3.3 million for the planning and design of a munitions supply facility at the Blue Grass Army Depot in Richmond.

The money comes from the passage of this fiscal year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorizes funds for national military and defense projects.

The last of the chemical munitions housed at the depot were destroyed last July, and disposal of secondary waste is expected to continue until 2025. The Depot is considering potential reuses for the disposal facilities in the meantime.

That includes 14 potential reuses identified in a U.S. Army feasibility study for the Depot's facilities in September, though public affairs officer William Ritter says the money earmarked by the Senate is for a separate facility independent of any projects identified in the study.

"This $3.3 million is funding specifically for the planning and design of a new depot facility that will help BGAD expand its current small arms ammunition mission," Ritter said in an email to WEKU.

Ritter says, in the meantime, the U.S. Army has been considering their options for the past several months.

“They've been looking at things and kind of making determinations on ‘Would this really be good for it,’ or ‘What would we have to do to augment the BGAD facilities to make this the best option,’” Ritter said.

"High-feasibility" proposals include the domestic production of defense industry chemicals, metal shipping containers and metal components for 155mm artillery rounds. Other options not involving production include the creation of a security guard training academy for the army’s industrial bases, or a centralized security center that would monitor other army installations in the region.

Ritter says the act accounts for moving forward with multiple projects.

“It directs to research the most promising, which were those top five,” Ritter said. “But it doesn't mean that's the only ones where we're researching.”

The NDAA also requires the Army to create proposals to execute these potential projects. It also requires the Department of Defense to bring the production of certain chemicals used by the defense industry to the United States by 2028, and to consider the Depot’s suitability to house those chemicals.

A release from Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-Kentucky) office says other provisions in the bill include:

  • $39 million for a Multipurpose Training Range at Fort Campbell. 
  • $16.4 million for a modern maintenance facility at Kentucky Army National Guard. 
  • $2.5 million to plan and design a new Air Traffic Control Tower at Fort Campbell. 
  • $2.0 million to complete construction of a Kentucky National Guard Headquarters Building in Frankfort 
  • Study requirement to support the Army Human Resources Command’s 2030 Transformation Plan at Ft. Knox. 
  • Continued support for the University of Louisville’s cybersecurity workforce development partnership with the National Security Agency. 
  • Vital investments in Kentucky’s defense manufacturing and innovation industry.

A proposal was also made by engineering company Bechtel to build a data center on depot grounds. It was heard by the Kentucky Chemical Demilitarization Citizens' Advisory Commission and Chemical Destruction Community Advisory Board earlier this month.

Editor’s note: This story was updated to note the munition supply facility earmarked by the NDAA is separate from the metal component facility named in the U.S. Army's September feasibility study.

Shepherd joined WEKU in June 2023 as a staff reporter. He most recently worked for West Virginia Public Broadcasting as General Assignment Reporter. In that role, he collected interviews and captured photos in the northern region of West Virginia. Shepherd holds a master’s degree in Digital Marketing Communication and a bachelor’s in music from West Virginia University.
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