Company Tests New Decontamination System

By Spc. Fabian Ortega
13th SC(E) PAO

Soldiers from the 181st Chemical Company, 2nd Chemical Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) were involved in four day limited object experiment with a new Joint Service Transportable Decontamination System for the Department of the Army, April 2 – 4.

The new JSTDS-small scale decon system, still in developmental testing, is being considered by the Department of the Army as the new standard for decontamination of non-sensitive material and limited facilities.

The JSTDS will replace current decontamination systems the Army has in its inventory, the M17 Nuclear Biological and Chemical SANATOR.

“The M17 is commonly found in a lot of units for operational decon type purpose, those systems are dated, to say the least,” said 2nd Lt. Bradley Lewis, 181st executive officer. “The SANATOR runs on a two stroke gasoline engine, almost like a weed eater. Newer systems run on diesel, which is more readily available,” said Lewis, citing some of the notable advantages of the newer system. 

Current Army decon systems require a mixture of solution, water and heat which is done manually, the newer system is able to process all three, circumventing the old process, and produces a decontaminant that is able to go down and penetrate into greater areas. 

“In the past, part of the problem was really getting down to where things really settle into, the cracks and crevices,” Lewis said. 

Lewis explained some of the JSTDS are modified with a monitoring system that helps indicate that mix is properly concentrated, “That’s part of the testing process, and we want to determine if the components of [the JSTDS] are what the Army really wants in its inventory as we move forward with a new lightweight decontamination system.”

The M17 came without much fan fare and as one Soldier pointed out, not without reason.

“The heater on the old unit never ran properly,” said Spc. Blanca Y. Robinson, a chemical operations specialist with the 181st. “The spark plugs in the heater unit always needed cleaning and most of the time the heater would not work.”

Robinson said the new system was at significant advantage because the diesel fuel engine requires less preventative maintenance and leaves less to worry about. Robinson also explained that with the current system, once solutions were mixed manually and heated, the decontaminant created was poured into a bucket where the next step was to wipe the equipment or vehicle with a mop. 

The JSTDS, however, uses a highly pressurized hose that runs a line to a container with the decontaminant, chief among advantages Robinson said.

The Army’s newest solution for small scale decontamination must undergo more testing before it is officially fielded in 2008.

“We are trying to fix everything we can find prior to a unit getting [the JSTDS],” said Deborah S. Motz, logistics manager for Joint Program Manager for Decontamination. “A configuration of these are in Iraq, and we are already getting feedback from the warfighter, tracking things that are happening and maintenance actions that are occurring, to see if there is any trends,” Motz said. “We are collecting this data prior to the official fielding of the joint system.”

Motz said as minor problems surface during testing, the development team goes back and improves them. 

“We look at how fuel lines get run, we ensure there are no safety issues for the operator,” said Motz.

The frame has also undergone tests to gauge its durability in a military environment and its ability to withstand rough terrain when the system is mounted on the back of vehicles. 

As the JSTDS enters its final stages of developmental testing, Motz said that feedback she receives from experimenters, such as the 181st, is critical.

“The folks here on the base have been tremendous, to help us out,” Motz said. “It’s a training opportunity for them to play with the new systems before they actually field and it’s a great opportunity for us to work some issues out.”

“So far it’s looking pretty good.”


181st Chemical Company, 2nd Chemical Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Soldiers donning level four Mission Oriented Protective Posture gear, spray a track wheeled vehicle with decontaminent using the new Joint Service Transportable Decontamination System mounted on the back of a truck, during a limited object experiment April 4th. The JSTDS, still in developmental testing, is the Army's newest solution to small-scale decontamination.