The Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant marked its first full year of chemical weapons destruction in 2017, a year of progress and overcoming challenges.
“During the past year, we have learned a lot about our plant and the munitions we are destroying,” said Greg Mohrman, site project manager, PCAPP. “The plant drained and neutralized more than 250 U.S. tons of chemical agent.”
During the spring and summer months, the plant demonstrated its ability to break down hydrolysate, the product of the chemical neutralization process, with microbes which are housed in Immobilized Cell Bioreactors. Similarly, the Brine Reduction System effectively processed the effluent from the bioreactors, recovering water for reuse in the plant and producing salt cakes. More than 230 tons of salt cakes were sent to an off-site permitted disposal facility.
“The Brine Reduction System is doing what it was intended to do, which is recycling water and producing salt cakes,” said Paul Usinowicz, technical advisor, PCAPP.
Throughout the year, the process of baseline reconfiguration continued, with more than 23,000 projectiles removed from boxes and fiberboard tubes. The munitions were palletized and returned to storage at the Pueblo Chemical Depot to await processing.
Despite its many accomplishments, plant operations have not been without obstacles. Mohrman said despite the challenges, the PCAPP workforce has proven to be adept at problem solving and improving operations.
“By far the most important lesson we have learned is the value of good training and placing trust in our people to make good decisions,” Mohrman said.