Site   Index,   Search,   Glossary

Home > System Components > MSR Complex >

MSR / MSCB / MSPP > MSR / MSCB / MSPP HAER Info > MSR / MSCB Construction

MSR / MSCB Construction

(Excerpt from Historic American Engineering Record, HAER No. ND-9-B,
Missile Site Control Building, Building 430

Part I. Historical Information

A. Physical History

5. Original Plans and Construction:

The MSCB was to be roofed in by October 1971 and occupied by the Weapon System Contractor a few months later.

General site excavation began for the MSCB on 6 April 1970 and continued through mid-May, at which point foundation excavation and sealing commenced and forms were placed for the concrete subslab. On 18 June, the first structural concrete pouring for the base slab began, and by late August, 70 percent of the MSCB first floor and south and east walls were complete. The first-floor-level slabs and walls were totally complete by mid-September, and false work and steel placement began for the second-floor slab. Fear that schedule slippage and the onset of freezing temperatures would, for all purposes, halt production resulted in an acceleration to two 10-hour, 6-day shifts a week from early October to 19 November. This allowed the second-floor slab to be finished to "seal in" the building for interior winter work, and as a result, M-KA (Morrison-Knudsen Associates, the general contractor) was allowed an additional 18 days to complete the building plus negotiated cost settlements of approximately $2.5 million.

During design and construction of the MSCB, the primary concern regarded offsetting the effects of nuclear electromagnetic pulse (EMP); this would result from electromagnetic fields created by detonation of a nuclear warhead within a critical distance of the site(s). In some cases, extra protection was needed against radio frequency interference (RFI), a specific band in the electromagnetic wave spectrum which could result from lightning, static, and internally generated sources, as well as warhead detonation. Shielding against EMP/RFI was necessary to offset adverse effects on the electrical and electronic elements of the weapon system (e.g., damage from electrical surge or from induced currents; malfunction due to spurious signals, RFI "drowning" of true signals, or spurious flux.)

Since some three-fifths of the MSCB required EMP/RFI shielding and neither the building's welded rebar nor its embedded wire mesh provided the required attenuation, it was decided that a metal liner-plate shielding would be utilized for the entire building. The use of 11-gauge steel was preferred as it could not only be electrically welded at its seams but could also be utilized as form material when pouring the concrete walls and structures.

At this juncture the decision on how to line the MSCB was between three potential scenarios: (1) an exterior steel shield, (2) steel liner plate on the inside face of the exterior walls, on the first floor slab, and under the building and turret roof, or (3) a room-by-room steel liner plating of the walls, ceilings, and floors. Though more extensive, the latter option proved preferable due to its reliability, the ease of repair and testing, and cost-effectiveness.

In October, cutting, placing, welding, and testing of this liner plate began, and in mid-November, fabrication, installation, and painting of conduit and heat sink cooling lines were underway. By 7 December, as temperatures dipped as low as -25oF, completion of the MSCB second floor effectively closed in the lower level. Any remaining openings were sealed off, and this, combined with gas-fired furnaces, allowed work to continue inside the building.

On 30 March 1971, outside work resumed and concrete pouring could recommence. Progress was impeded somewhat by labor disputes, precipitation, and the annual load limits placed on state highways (to protect them during spring thaw), but by the third week in August, the third-level walls and fourth-floor slab were in place. Completing the fourth floor, however, would be problematic; there was a delay in shipment of the antenna support rings, which had to be emplaced to continue work.

The antenna emplacement proved to be one of the most critical construction problems encountered at the MSCB. Holes had to be left in the upper two levels to accommodate the later arrival (May 1972) of four huge, 36-segment antenna support rings; potentially a setback in schedule, the blocked-off areas were merely winterized by temporary timber and plywood boxes. Once they arrived, the support rings would have to be assembled, installed, and test-aligned before the adjoining wall surfaces could be filled in with concrete. The ring and the support system constitute a tremendous load (each antenna weighed approximately 455,000 pounds) and necessitated a major engineering effort to insure that the permanent structure was not overstressed. In order to block out the spaces, it was necessary to transfer the loads from the ring/support system to the building itself, a problem since the ring had to be set to machine tolerances of within 0.05in. Machine alignment of the 36 shear keys, positioned with a special test fixture, proved to be the solution; the fixture checked alignment of the plane in which the ring was set to within 15 minutes of angle. The antenna ring's supports were provided by the use of towers and radial framework supported on the fourth-level slab.

By September's end, the fourth-level slab and walls were complete and the roof capped. With the MSCB fully closed in, little winterization was required, and by 31 December 1971, 53 percent of the mechanical and 42 percent of the electrical work were completed. From May through July of 1972, the four turret rings were assembled, aligned, and set in concrete. On 3 January 1973, the MSCB was transferred to the SAFSCOM Site Activation Team, and Western Electric Company employees began installation and testing of tactical equipment.

In February 1976, activity was terminated at the MSCB. Final closure occurred on 16 September 1977. During this time, all missiles were removed from the MSR site, missile silos were sealed, and the MSCB itself was salvaged (removal of support beams, stair rails, etc.) and sealed.

These salvage operations created openings which permitted rainfall, melting snow and groundwater to enter the building and flood the first two levels. In December 1989, an on-site environmental inspection found polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB's) in the MSCB.

Within a year the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a Notice of Noncompliance against the SRMSC for violations of the Toxic Substances Control Act, and a major effort was undertaken to test, remove, and dispose of all PCB-containing sludge and debris and pump out many missions of gallons of water. It was assumed that a number of PCB-containing equipment items might be located under the water flooding the MSCB and Missile Site Radar Power Plant (MSRPP). The U.S. Army Strategic Defense Command, along with the Omaha District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Huntsville, completed the cleanup. By 23 January 1992, all structures were dewatered.

Other PCB-related work included:

Although the extent has not been determined, some additional alteration to the building's interior may have occurred during a testing phase in 1977. On 9 November 1976, word was received from the Safeguard Project Office to retain certain items at the MSCB to support Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) and Defense Nuclear Agency (DNA) explosive testing. Requested for use were rooms 113, 114, 130,132, and 142; a corridor; rooms 241, 242, and 243 (after all floor installed equipment had been removed); and the MSCB's utilities and elevator. It was stated that, "after testing, exterior damage to the facilities will be repaired and the facilities restored to a weathertight, secure condition," but added, "interior damage need not be repaired."

The DNA performed the explosive tests for the FAA during July. They were considered successful in developing criteria for hardening baggage storage and locker areas of airport terminals to contain the explosive effects of small expedient bombs. The extent of any interior damage to the MSCB has not been determined. Regardless, the corrosion and water damage caused by the later flooding would primarily have affected the two floors wherein the testing occurred and undoubtedly accelerated the rooms' deterioration.