Pueblo Plant Pursues Final Operating Permit for Main Process



The Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant is pursuing a final Part B Hazardous Waste Operating Permit, which will govern the processing of the remaining chemical munitions stockpile.



Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant’s science group – from left, Dr. Jim Earley, chief scientist, test engineers Kevin Fu and Joey Jankovic, test coordinator Andy Shaffer and senior chemist Dr. Shannon Snellings – gather outside the plant’s Personnel Support Building. The team collected tens of thousands of pieces of data and produced dozens of reports not only to keep the plant running, but also to obtain a Part B Operations permit, the final permit that will make PCAPP a fully operating plant.

The Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant submitted documents to clear the way for a final permit that will govern the treatment of the remaining chemical munitions stockpile in the main plant’s automated process.

“The plant is currently operating under a Research, Development and Demonstration permit, used to demonstrate innovative treatment technologies that have not been established with the Environmental Protection Agency,” said Dr. James Earley, chief scientist and head of the team that delivered its data to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “After the transition between pilot testing and normal operations, the plant will have to treat the remaining munitions stockpile under a Part B Hazardous Waste Operating Permit.”

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment will review the Part B permit application and issue a draft permit when that’s approved.

A series of informational meetings will give the public a chance to learn more about the permit application and talk to the plant’s subject matter experts. These meetings will take place 4:30 to 6 p.m. Nov. 18 at Boone Town Hall, 421 E. First St., Boone; 4:30 to 6 p.m. Nov. 19 at the Pueblo Chemical Stockpile Outreach Office, 104 W. B St., Pueblo; and 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the McHarg Park Community Center, 405 Second St., Avondale.

The Pueblo plant dismantles and drains obsolete munitions of mustard agent, which is then eliminated through a process of chemical neutralization followed by biotreatment. CDPHE will use the data from the Multi-Pathway Health Risk Assessment and pilot test reports that were submitted Oct. 16 to establish operating parameters and processing rates as the project transitions from the RD&D permit to the operating permit, Earley said.

“We are one of the smallest and perhaps least-known groups on the project,” Earley said. “I’m proud of this hard-working team for developing and coordinating the PCAPP pilot test, collecting and analyzing tens of thousands of pieces of test data and producing dozens of reports required by CDPHE.”

As PCAPP transitions to full operations, Earley said, the science group will continue to assist the main plant in resolving critical technical challenges, as well as support preparations for Static Detonation Chamber testing and operations. Three SDC units will augment the main plant by destroying munitions that are not safe for automated processing.

The SDC, now under construction, will require its own separate approval from the state and Pueblo County.

“The use of the SDCs is critical to our success and we continue to work with the county as well as CDPHE to make sure we get those properly permitted,” said Nicholas Stamatakis III, deputy Program Executive Officer, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives, at Oct. 30’s Colorado Chemical Demilitarization Citizens’ Advisory Commission Meeting. “We’ve received three of the temporary authorizations to date so far, and we’re looking forward to continuing to work with both the county and CDPHE to get the rest of them.”

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