Portable Quonset Hut Used In Cleanup of Former Chemical Warfare Training Camp

SteelMaster Quonset Hut on wheels carried on trailer with large wheels

The portable Quonset Hut on wheels allowed for rapid movement, positioning, lifting and lowering of the enclosure without using a crane.

When a Department of Defense contractor needed an easily-movable, durable building to handle toxic materials, they turned to SteelMaster to find a structure that would meet their needs.

Back in the early 1940s, Camp Sibert in Gadsen, Alabama was the first large-scale chemical agent training area in the United States.

The camp provided the opportunity for live-agent, large-scale training that was previously unavailable. Infantry units and soldiers used mustard gas and other chemical warfare agents during training.

Now, the former camp is a combination of open rural areas, homes and businesses. However, nonstockpile Chemical Warfare Materiel (CWM) was still at the formerly used defense site and posed danger to the public and the environment.

In 1997, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers chose a Department of Defense contractor, Parsons, to investigate CWM, munitions and explosives of concern within the former 37,000 acre training area. The process is known as advanced geophysical classification. Because 1 in 100 items detected are munitions, reducing unnecessary excavation saves nearly 50 percent of cleanup costs.

The Parsons team implemented geophysical surveys over 128 acres of the site and identified more than 10,000 suspect metallic anomalies.

Parsons put the 30’ X 40’ SteelMaster Quonset Hut on wheels, creating what is known as a Vapor Containment Structure. The structure is a place to handle toxic or explosive materials, such as mortar and artillery shells.

The clear span design of the steel buildings provides 100 percent usable space for the Parsons team to work on their project and store their equipment.

The portable Quonset Hut allowed for rapid movement, positioning, lifting and lowering of the enclosure without using a crane.

Rather than build containment structures around the CWM, contractors were able to physically move the portable containment structures from the area of one item of war material to another.  A flat-bed “Low Boy” trailer moved the VCS down public roads.

In just 12 years, 5,500 anomalies were investigated, and more than 2,000 pieces of mortar scrap (approximately 11,400 pounds) and 13 intact, liquid filled mortars were discovered. The mortars were packaged and stored in a temporary holding facility until final assessment and disposition.

Overall, Parsons’ use of advanced geophysical classification has saved the U.S. Army approximately $2 million.

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