The National Research Council (NRC) recently completed a study focused on contingency planning to ensure successful plant operations at the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant (PCAPP). In response to this study, the Colorado Chemical Demilitarization Citizens’ Advisory Commission (CAC) assembled a working group known as the Biotreatment Utilization Group, or BUG.
Review Criteria for Successful Treatment of Hydrolysate at the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant provides a set of conditions by which PCAPP would ship hydrolysate, the byproduct of the neutralization process, should secondary treatment systems fail to perform as designed. This is a backup plan to the on-site treatment processes intended for hydrolysate.
“In a worst case scenario, if hydrolysate cannot be biotreated, we would like to be involved in the development of the plans to ship it off site,” said John Norton, chair of the BUG. “We would like to be kept informed about permitting activities and on the ultimate destination of the hydrolysate.”
The technology chosen to destroy more than 2,600 tons of mustard agent currently stored at the U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot is neutralization followed by biotreatment. The current plan calls for mustard agent to be drained from munitions and neutralized by adding hot water and a caustic agent, forming hydrolysate. The hydrolysate will be treated in an Immobilized Cell Bioreactor system in which microbes, or bugs, will further break down the hydrolysate.
“While the Program Executive Office, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives and Bechtel Pueblo Team are confident biotreatment will work, we organized this group to observe the development, testing and operations of the biotreatment system,” Norton explained.
This CAC subcommittee will meet on the same days Permitting Working Group (PWG) meetings are held and will follow the PWG meetings, which are scheduled at 1:30 p.m. at the Pueblo County District Attorney’s Office.