75% of Mustard Agent in Pueblo Destroyed

CONTACT: Sandy Romero,
Bechtel Pueblo Team Communications Manager
(719) 248-9633

U.S. ARMY PUEBLO CHEMICAL DEPOT, Colo. – The Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant (PCAPP) team reached a significant milestone in the destruction of mustard agent on June 30, marking the safe elimination of approximately three-quarters of the original chemical agent stored at the U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot (PCD).

“The destruction of more than 75% of the mustard agent is a tribute to the enduring hard work and dedication of the men and women of PCAPP,” said Walton Levi, site project manager, PCAPP. “While we still have much work ahead of us, this achievement demonstrates our continued commitment to the international community to safely eliminate all chemical weapons in the U.S. inventory.”

“With only a few days in command, I am incredibly excited to be part of this effort. For decades the depot has ensured these weapons remain safe and secure prior to their destruction,” said Col Jason Lacroix, PCD Commander, who began his command of PCD on June 24, 2021. “While hitting this 75% of agent eradicated milestone is exciting and a true testament to the workforce and relationship between PCD and PCAPP, we remain focused on the safety and security of the remaining 25% of the agent stockpile. We will continue to work closely with regulators and community partners to meet the milestones set by the Chemical Weapons Convention Treaty and Congressional mandates.”

Since the early 1950s, the depot has stored three munition types: 155mm projectiles, 105mm projectiles and 4.2-inch mortar rounds. Since the start of the 105mm campaign Dec. 11, 2020, more than 137,000 projectiles have been destroyed. On Sept. 5, 2020, workers completed the destruction of nearly 300,000 155mm projectiles, marking the end of the first munitions destruction campaign. As of June 25, a total of 1,953 tons of mustard agent has been destroyed at the depot.

“Many challenges were overcome by a great team whose innovative thinking and perseverance got us to this point,” said Ken Harrawood, project manager, Bechtel Pueblo Team. “We have more than 1,600 workers who keep this facility operational on a daily basis, which has been a huge accomplishment especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The U.S. is destroying its remaining chemical weapons stockpile – mustard agent in Colorado and mustard and nerve agent in Kentucky – under a multinational arms agreement known as the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Agent destruction operations began in Colorado in March 2015 and in Kentucky in June 2019. Both sites are scheduled to be complete by the congressionally mandated deadline of Dec. 31, 2023.

In Pueblo, the elimination of the chemical weapons stockpile is the Army’s final mission at the depot. An organization known as PuebloPlex is looking into sustainable, long-term economic development opportunities for the depot land following chemical demilitarization.

The primary technology being used to destroy munitions at PCAPP is neutralization followed by biotreatment. 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. Munition shells are drained and decontaminated and then recycled at an off-site, permitted storage facility.

To augment the main plant, three Static Detonation Chamber units will destroy all problematic munitions, including 4.2-inch mortar rounds. These units are scheduled to be operational in 2021.

For additional PCAPP information, contact the Pueblo Chemical Stockpile Outreach Office at (719) 546-0400 or pueblooutreach@iem.com. Visit www.peoacwa.army.mil for more information. For additional information on PCD, contact Aaron Clementi at (719) 549-4135 or george.a.clementi.civ@mail.mil

A Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant ordnance technician uses a lift assist to transfer a 105mm projectile onto a conveyor in February 2021.
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