The U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot is home to three types of munitions filled with mustard agent, and the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant is working to destroy the weapons in three campaigns to meet its goal of finishing by Dec. 31, 2023.
The first of these campaigns, now underway after starting in 2016, is destroying the depot’s store of 155mm projectiles. The 155mm campaign surpassed 50% of munitions destroyed this summer. When that’s done, the plant’s equipment will be reconfigured to dismantle, drain and recycle the smaller 105mm projectiles in a second campaign.
“That will most likely happen at the end of calendar year 2020,” said Kim Jackson, plant manager, at the Sept. 25 Colorado Chemical Demilitarization Citizens’ Advisory Commission meeting in Boone, Colorado.
A third campaign will destroy the depot’s 4.2-inch mortar rounds, which are not suitable for the main plant’s automated processing systems. The rounds are being baseline reconfigured – unpacked from their wooden storage boxes and removed from cylindrical fiberboard storage tubes before having their energetic components removed. They then are packed away in covered pallets for destruction later in Static Detonation Chambers, three of which will be assembled near the plant.
More than half of the 4.2-inch mortars have gone through the reconfiguration process already. The 105mm projectiles also had to go through baseline reconfiguration before they were considered ready for their future journey through the main plant’s robotic lines.
“Campaigns give us measurable milestones to celebrate as we operate the plant safely and continue eliminating the chemical weapons stockpile in Colorado,” said Walton Levi, site project manager, PCAPP.
Two earlier campaigns, from March 2015 to December 2018, eliminated 951 weapons and 3.82 U.S. tons of agent using the Explosive Destruction System, a transportable device housed within an environmental enclosure with its own air filtration system.