During preparation and planning for the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command (USASMDC/ARSTRAT) Advanced Hypersonic Weapon (AHW) mission, an Environmental Assessment (EA) was prepared as required under the National Environmental Policy Act. The EA and the Finding of No Significant Impact were provided to the public for review and comment prior to the mission (public was notified via announcement in the Kodiak and Anchorage newspapers and printed copies made available in the Kodiak and Anchorage libraries in April 2014).
On 25 August 2014, the USASMDC/ARSTRAT conducted a flight test from the Kodiak Launch Complex (KLC), Alaska. Due to an anomaly, the test terminated near the launch pad shortly after lift-off resulting in the destruction of the launch vehicle (booster system and payload). The mission payload was a hypersonic glide body that contained an instrumentation package, not a weapon with explosives.
Alaska Aerospace Corporation (AAC) immediately executed KLC emergency operation procedures. These procedures addressed the concern for safety of personnel, securing the KLC facility, and notification to state and federal agencies. All personnel were accounted for with no injuries reported. The existing roadblock established pre-mission on Pasagshak Road (between Pasagshak State Recreation Site and Narrow Cape) was kept in place for public safety (public was notified via Public Safety Announcement in the Kodiak Daily Mirror on 3 September 2014). Immediate notification and coordination with numerous agencies (Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Coast Guard Air Station & Marine Safety, Alaska State Troopers, National Transportation Safety Board, Kodiak Fire Department, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC), Alaska Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, etc.) was performed. Additionally, AAC instantly contacted and requested support from the Explosive Ordnance Detachment (EOD) at Joint Base Elmendorf Fort Richardson, Anchorage.
The EOD team arrived on-site at KLC the afternoon of 25 August 2014. The team began operations by clearing the KLC roads of any hazards for vehicle access. The next step was to establish a debris field perimeter, walk the entire field and mark locations of hazardous items and unexploded ordnance, and photograph items found for identification by the Army launch support team. The EOD team collected all identified items and conducted clean-up and in-place disposal operations, including controlled detonations (public was notified via Public Safety Announcement in the Kodiak Daily Mirror on 28 August 2014). EOD conducted a final sweep of the entire field and then supported a site walk-thru with the USASMDC/ARSTRAT Environmental Division.
For public safety, USASMDC/ARSTRAT required AAC to install a temporary fence along the East side of Pasagshak Road from the Payload Processing Facility to the Launch Pad 1 area permanent fencing. More temporary safety fencing will be installed to cover the perimeter of the debris field. Additionally “No Trespassing,” “Premises Under Video Surveillance,” and “Danger Explosive Hazard – Keep Out” signs were installed around the perimeter of the debris field. The safety fencing and signs have been established to protect the general public from wandering into a potentially dangerous area. AAC has added security guards to provide 24 hours/7 days per week surveillance, control and monitor the KLC safety exclusion zone, monitor the cars and individuals that enter the area, and interface with the public. Once these public safety steps were completed, the road to Narrow Cape and Fossil Beach was opened by the State of Alaska (public was notified via Public Safety Announcement in the Kodiak Daily Mirror on 10 October 2014).
Miltec Corporation conducted a competitive contract award to perform KLC site debris mapping, recovery, and clean-up. A qualified and experienced contractor has been selected and has been working on-site (with USASMDC/ARSTRAT, Miltec and AAC personnel) at KLC since 20 October 2014. The safety exclusion zone contains shards of metal from the damaged launch complex buildings and pieces of launch vehicle debris. The team has been working six days a week and has recovered both explosive hazardous materials and inert debris that has been transported to a safe storage location at KLC. The goal is for the clean-up effort to be completed in December 2014, but weather will be a factor in completing this task. Additional manpower is being added to augment the clean-up team to facilitate earlier completion.
AAC has completed the post-launch environmental procedures required to comply with the state and federal laws. Once the debris clean-up is complete, the next step will be to conduct an environmental investigation to determine if any residual contamination remains. The investigation plan will include water and soil sampling and will be developed, coordinated, and approved by the ADEC and any other agencies as required to comply with local, state, and federal rules and regulations. If any remaining contamination is discovered, a plan will be developed, coordinated and approved by ADEC and other agencies, as required, to remedy the situation. This effort will also have to be competitively bid and awarded. Requests for proposals have already been issued to potential bidders.
The AHW flight test failure investigation is on-going to determine the root/probable cause(s) of the failure. This process could take a few more months to conclude.
AAC personnel continue working to remove KLC facility debris from the damaged areas in preparation for eventual reconstruction of the launch site. For site repairs, AAC is a member of the State of Alaska insurance pool. AAC advised the State of Alaska Division of Risk Management shortly after the incident that AAC would be pursuing a claim for damages, and that process has started. Final damage estimates and schedules are still being developed, and AAC will submit that to the State.
USASMDC/ARSTRAT, Miltec Corporation and AAC thank the public for their continued patience and cooperation in keeping clear of closed areas and observing posted signs while we complete the clean-up process. Public safety is and will be our number one priority. We are listening to your feedback and doing our best to address your comments. We care about the people of Kodiak and the land surrounding the KLC.
This KLC status summary is being provided to inform the public via publication in the Kodiak Daily Mirror newspaper. This document will also be posted on the Alaska Aerospace Corporation’s website (https://www.akaerospace.com/) with a link at the bottom of the home page. Questions and comments may be submitted by selecting http://KLC-INFO.mil-tec.com .
This status summary will be periodically updated as new information becomes available.