A number of chemical munitions stored at the U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot (PCD) are contained in wooden boxes. In order for the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant, known as PCAPP, to process these munitions, the projectiles must undergo a process called baseline reconfiguration.
On June 23, 2020, the reconfiguration of all boxed munitions (155mm, 105mm projectiles and 4.2-inch mortar rounds) from a ready-to-use configuration to a ready-to-process configuration was complete.
During reconfiguration, the fiber tubes which contain the munitions are first removed from wooden shipping crates. Then the munitions are removed from the tubes. After examination and monitoring for possible leaks, these projectiles were considered ready for reconfiguration and final destruction in the main plant
The first munitions destruction campaign was complete on Sept. 5, 2020, with the elimination of nearly 300,000 reconfigured 155mm projectiles. The second campaign began Dec. 11, 2020, beginning the elimination of more than 350,000 reconfigured 105mm projectiles being processing through the Projectile/Mortar Disassembly system, which as indicated by its name, disassembles the projectile.
The 4.2-inch mortar rounds were the last to be reconfigured. When removed from their wooden boxes, the fiber tube, the striker nut, ignition cartridge, propellant retaining clip and the propellant wafers were manually disassembled. The mortar was then placed in the twin spindle removal machine where additional parts to include the pressure plate, pressure plate nut, cartridge container and rotating disc are removed. Once complete, the reconfigured round was placed on a pallet and returned to a PCD storage igloo for destruction at a later date in the Static Detonation Chamber (SDC) units.
Safety for employees and the environment is a top priority. During the baseline reconfiguration process, munitions were monitored for agent leaks. During transport between the storage igloos and PCAPP, site personnel conduct precise monitoring and observation of the munitions., Used during the removal of propellants were Rapid Deluge Systems, which can detect the slightest spark and douse the munition with water.
After munitions were reconfigured, the 105mm boxes were used to contain the uncontaminated cartridges with propellant inside. These components, along with uncontaminated fuzes, were shipped off site to the Anniston Army Depot in Alabama for destruction in a SDC. Boxes containing 4.2-inch mortar rounds are considered dunnage and were shredded, treated as solid waste, and transferred to an approved off-site disposal facility.
Some munitions will not be able to be easily processed through the main destruction plant. These problematic munitions include those that have leaked in the past and are overpacked, as well as “rejects” whose condition does not allow for automated processing in the PCAPP main plant. These munitions will be safely processed in a PCAPP SDC.