In 2020, workers at the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant achieved milestones while weathering the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Despite implementing new safety protocols during the coronavirus pandemic, our workforce remained steadfast, as evidenced by the many milestones achieved in 2020,” said Ken Harrawood, project manager, Bechtel Pueblo Team.
Three major achievements stand out in 2020.
The first munitions destruction campaign at PCAPP completed Sept. 5 saw the elimination of nearly 300,000 155mm projectiles from the Colorado chemical weapons stockpile. With the conclusion of that campaign, approximately two-thirds of the original chemical agent stored at the U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot has been safely destroyed.
Ahead of the completion of the 155mm campaign, the PCAPP workforce achieved three consecutive months of processing records, destroying nearly 50,000 projectiles from June through August.
“The processing records were a testament to our workforce’s dedication to complete the 155mm destruction campaign,” said Walton Levi, site project manager, PCAPP.
On Dec. 11, the second campaign at PCAPP, the safe destruction of more than 350,000 105mm projectiles, got underway. To prepare for this campaign, main plant technicians began retrofitting automated processing equipment to destroy the smaller 105mm munitions.
In July, workers finished assembling three Static Detonation Chamber units, which will augment the main plant by destroying problematic munitions which are unsuitable for processing using the main plant’s automated equipment. The SDC units will also destroy the 4.2-inch mortar and overpacked rounds, which is the third of three destruction campaigns. The SDC units are scheduled to come online in 2021.
Throughout the year, the plant implemented safety protocols designed to reduce risk to the workforce amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Following guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, standard safety measures such as protective face coverings, handwashing, health screenings and social distancing were implemented at the plant. Additionally, remote work policies for office staff were established.
The PCAPP facility uses a two-step destruction process, neutralization followed by biotreatment, as the primary technology to destroy the U.S. chemical weapons stockpile in Colorado. Since agent destruction operations began in 2015, the Pueblo team has safely destroyed more than 1,700 U.S. tons of chemical agent.