The Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant has received approval from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to increase the rate at which it processes chemical munitions.
“This is an important step in our mission and commitment to destroy the remaining chemical weapons in the stockpile,” said Walton Levi, site project manager, PCAPP. “Every munition we destroy brings us closer to that goal of ridding the world of them forever.”
To begin increasing the rate at which weapons are sent through the Munitions Treatment Units from 24 per hour to 32 per hour, the plant had to submit a Class 1 permit modification to the state. That request was approved in mid-August.
The 24-projectile-per-hour rate was imposed following pilot testing, which included recent Integrated Facilities Demonstrations to demonstrate plant proficiency and collect data used in setting standards and limitations. During IFDs, the plant exceeded 30 munitions per hour on both MTU lines for the first time, and reached up to 32.8 munitions per hour.
The state is reviewing data collected from the IFD runs for a Multiple Pathway Health Risk Assessment; once completed, the rate could be adjusted again.
“With this approved change, PCAPP now has the ability to increase productivity by as much as 30%, without sacrificing safety and quality,” said Ken Harrawood, project manager, Bechtel Pueblo Team. “The entire team – the Program Executive Office, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives, Pueblo Chemical Depot, BPT and CDPHE – has worked collaboratively to realize this important milestone.”
The plant has destroyed more than half the 155mm projectiles containing mustard agent in the Colorado stockpile, reducing the total amount of agent by more than one-third. The U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot stockpile also includes 105mm projectiles and 4.2-inch mortar rounds, all containing mustard agent. They have been stored at the U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot since the 1950s and are being destroyed in accordance with an international treaty and a mandate from Congress.