The Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant began its second campaign Dec. 11 with the destruction of the first 105mm projectiles of mustard agent stored at the U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot.
“The start of the 105mm projectile destruction campaign is a tribute to the hard work and dedication of the men and women at PCAPP and PCD,” said Walton Levi, site project manager, PCAPP. “This workforce is committed to safely destroying the remaining U.S. chemical weapons stockpile in Colorado.”
The first destruction campaign undertaken at PCAPP – the eradication of nearly 300,000 155mm projectiles of mustard agent – concluded Sept. 5. According to Kim Jackson, plant manager, PCAPP, technicians began retrofitting automated processing equipment to destroy the smaller 105mm munitions immediately after the 155mm campaign completed.
“We officially started changeover about three hours before the final 155mm round came out,” said Jackson. “We immediately stepped into changeover, and it went very well.”
As with the 155mm campaign, neutralization followed by biotreatment will be used to destroy the mustard agent in the 105mm projectiles. Mustard agent molecules are neutralized with hot water and a caustic solution, resulting in hydrolysate, a common industrial chemical that is readily biodegradable. Hydrolysate is then broken down into salts, water and organics using living microbes.
The U.S. is destroying its remaining chemical weapons stockpile – mustard agent in Colorado and mustard and nerve agent in Kentucky – under the Chemical Weapons Convention.
“The U.S. continues to honor our commitment to the Chemical Weapons Convention as we begin safely destroying the last 105mm projectiles in the remaining U.S. chemical weapons stockpile,” said Mr. Michael Abaie, program executive officer, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives.