First Year of Agent Destruction Tests Equipment and Workers



An ordnance technician uses a custom tool to remove an ignitor cartridge from an inert mortar round. Several tools, ranging from light and thin to strong and heavy, were made from metals that do not produce sparks.



A Cavity Access Machine operates inside the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant after a splashguard was installed on the machine. Splash guards reduce the hours spent cleaning up agent contamination.

The Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant produced some unexpected obstacles in 2017 and staff responded by enhancing plant systems and procedures.

“Our employees came up with the tools to help them do their jobs better,” said Kim Jackson, plant manager, PCAPP.

When workers received the first delivery of 155mm projectiles, they noticed bands, called grommets, covering firing rings on munitions that would require a new, documented removal process.

“They came up with an idea, added it to the procedure and tested it within a matter of hours,” said Jackson.

When plant operators had trouble removing ignitor cartridges from mortar rounds with commercially available tools, a new hand tool was designed and built. Members of the Program Executive Office, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives and U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center worked with PCAPP ordnance technicians to design an ergonomic ignitor extractor tool.

Similarly, when pressurized rounds caused a disruption to the processing of the munitions, staff responded by installing splashguards. Jackson said the workforce knew some of the lots of projectiles would be over-pressurized and proposed the idea of putting a splashguard around the bottom of the Cavity Access Machines to capture spills.

As the year came to an end, technicians saw strainers become clogged, and experts are now looking for ways to reduce the amount of solids coming into the plant. The clogs have required numerous toxic area entries and increased inspection and repair of equipment.

The plant successfully destroyed 253 U.S. tons of mustard agent during its first full year of agent destruction operations, which represents more than nine percent of the original Pueblo stockpile.

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