Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant and U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot representatives met with local government officials to update them on progress being made at the Pueblo site.
“Our sole mission is to get rid of the stockpile,” said Walton Levi, site project manager, PCAPP, in an Oct. 15 address to the Pueblo City Council and Mayor Nick Gradisar. “People who made these weapons intended to use them, with no thought about what to do if they were still here.”
Levi addressed the city council along with Ken Harrawood, project manager, Bechtel Pueblo Team, and Col. Michael Cobb, commander, PCD. Levi provided an update on the assembly of Static Detonation Chamber units as well as the status of the destruction of the stockpile of mustard agent-filled munitions at the main plant. Harrawood provided a snapshot of the approximately 1,500-person workforce at the plant, while Cobb highlighted the benefits of government job openings at the depot.
Council members asked the three officials about employment at the plant and depot as well as project timelines and economic impact. Dennis Flores, city council president, asked whether adding the three SDCs would mean the plant would close sooner. Harrawood explained the electrically heated units are needed to meet Congress’ 2023 deadline. They will augment the automated main plant, which uses chemical neutralization followed by biotreatment, making it possible to meet or beat the government deadline to finish eliminating the stockpile.
“We’ll keep a lot of the workforce there to clean up, decontaminate and dismantle,” Levi said. “Even though the (chemical demilitarization) mission ends, our mission goes two to three years after that.”
Levi also addressed the Pueblo West Metropolitan District’s Board of Directors on Nov. 12. Many of the plant’s workers live in Pueblo West, a community of about 30,000 just to the west of Pueblo. Matt Smith, board vice president, focused his question on the plant’s exit strategy. Representatives on both local bodies wanted to know about plans for closure of the plant and future use of the land and facilities around the depot.
Plant and depot officials also meet regularly with representatives of Colorado’s Congressional delegation as well as state and county agency heads. The Pueblo Chemical Stockpile Outreach Office supports presentations to many groups in addition to government bodies, and is open for public information Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 104 W. B. St., Pueblo.