The Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant team completed the destruction of nearly 300,000 155mm projectiles stored at the U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot, on Sept. 5, marking the end of the main plant’s first munitions campaign.
“We proudly completed this campaign ahead of schedule and while implementing strict new protocols to keep our workforce safe amid the coronavirus pandemic,” said Walton Levi, site project manager, PCAPP.
Agent destruction operations in Colorado began in Sept. 2016 and are scheduled to be completed by 2023. More than 780,000 munitions were in the original Colorado stockpile.
The 155mm projectiles destroyed at PCAPP were World War II-type munitions, which contained approximately 12 pounds of blister (mustard) agent.
Mustard agent molecules were neutralized with hot water, resulting in a chemical compound called hydrolysate, a common industrial chemical that is readily biodegradable. The hydrolysate was then broken down into salts, water and organics using living microbes.
“Destruction of 155mm projectiles is a great accomplishment for the PCAPP team,” said Ken Harrawood, project manager, Bechtel Pueblo Team. “Innovative solutions are key to solving issues that arise with a complex and one-of-a-kind operating facility like PCAPP. This would not have been possible without the dedication and professionalism of our amazing workforce.”
The next munitions campaign to be undertaken at PCAPP is the destruction of 105mm projectiles, which each contain 3 pounds of mustard agent.
“During the next couple months at PCAPP, our technicians will retrofit the plant’s robots and systems to begin processing the next munitions,” said Levi.