The first mustard agent-filled munitions were processed through the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant Sept. 7.
“As of Sept.19, we have successfully processed 148 rounds,” said Greg Mohrman, site project manager, Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant (PCAPP).
The gradual introduction of mustard agent-filled munitions into the system initiated the pilot testing phase of operations. Pilot testing will continue until agent destruction is confirmed and all safety requirements and environmental permits are successfully completed, Mohrman said.
The heavily automated facility uses chemical neutralization followed by biotreatment in a process where robotics are used to reduce risk for the workforce, Mohrman said.
Destruction operations are expected to continue until mid-2020, followed by closure of the facility. The PCAPP Explosive Destruction System (EDS) will destroy problematic munitions rejected from processing in the pilot plant. The PCAPP EDS was previously used to destroy 560 overpacked items during an operation that occurred from March 2015 to February 2016, he said.
The PCAPP facility is one of two remaining chemical demilitarization sites; the other facility is at the Blue Grass Army Depot, near Richmond, Kentucky. The Program Executive Office, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives, headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, is responsible for safely destroying the remaining U.S. chemical weapons stockpiles at both sites.
The U.S. must destroy all the chemical weapons it possesses as a State Party to the Chemical Weapons Convention, a multilateral arms control treaty that entered into force in 1997.