The Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant has prepared more than half its supply of 4.2-inch mortar rounds for destruction.
PCAPP dayshift area supervisor Chanse Page said the milestone reflects the beginning of the end of baseline reconfiguration for those munitions. “We made the hump at 50% and we are now on the downward slope,” he said.
The plant’s baseline reconfiguration team reached the halfway point with 4.2-inch mortars on Aug. 29, just 16 months after starting the process.
Baseline reconfiguration is the process of taking boxed 4.2-inch mortar rounds from a ready-to-use configuration to a ready-to-process configuration. The mortar and its components are unboxed and removed from a fiberboard tube, and the energetic components are removed. The mortar is placed in a twin spindle removal machine and the pressure plate and nut, cartridge container and rotating disc are removed. It is then placed on a pallet and overpacked, or covered; the round is then considered baseline reconfigured and ready for demilitarization operations.
Page said he estimates the teams can reconfigure an average 268 rounds per day.
“I have a very dedicated crew,” he said. “They make my job easy because they are always problem solving and looking for ways to improve our processes.”
The main plant uses an automated process to disassemble 155mm projectiles and drain and treat the chemical agent inside. Because the 4.2-inch rounds have been found to be unsuited to that process, the reconfigured mortars will be destroyed in Static Detonation Chambers currently planned to augment the plant. The 4.2-inch mortar round destruction campaign in three SDCs will run concurrent with either the 155mm projectiles now being processed or 105mm projectiles in a later campaign of the main facility. All the munitions stockpiled at the U.S. Army’s Pueblo Chemical Depot contain mustard agent.