First Agent Destroyed in Static Detonation Chamber



A Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant ordnance technician holds the first 4.2-inch mortar round to be processed in the Static Detonation Chamber complex.



Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant ordnance technicians monitor the Miniature Continuous Air Monitoring System to check 4.2-inch mortar rounds for vapor leaks prior to Static Detonation Chamber processing.

Operators destroyed the first 4.2-inch mortar rounds containing mustard agent using the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant Static Detonation Chamber complex on Feb. 19.

“For the first time, we can now demonstrate how the system handles mustard agent,” said David Duff, chief engineer, PCAPP. “Until now, we’ve only conducted trials using surrogate materials to prove the system can operate as designed.”

Munitions destroyed in an SDC unit are detonated or deflagrated inside an electrically heated containment vessel that reaches 1,150 degrees Fahrenheit. Emissions generated are neutralized in an off-gas treatment system, which filters and cools gases to remove contaminants.

Initial SDC agent-destruction operations are limited in scope. Only one of the three units may process mortar rounds at a time during the Phase 2 Trial Burn period. Munitions are slowly being introduced into the system under close monitoring. With successful results, the rate of throughput will increase up to the permitted limit.

“Over the next two or three months, 4.2-inch mortar rounds will be processed in a very controlled feed,” Duff said. “We are monitoring the process, in particular how the off-gas treatment system is functioning with mustard being destroyed in the detonation chamber and thermal oxidizer. Data from emissions testing will be compiled and analyzed to ensure the SDC units are working as designed, processing the mustard and associated waste emissions in a controlled and environmentally safe manner consistent with the requirements set by the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment.”

Agent destruction using the SDC complex officially marks the beginning of the third and final destruction campaign at PCAPP. The units will not only process 4.2-inch mortars but also problematic 105mm and overpacked projectiles/mortars deemed unsuitable for automated processing in the main plant due to their age or condition.

“The start of this campaign brings us closer to our commitment to the local and international communities to safely eliminate all chemical weapons in the U.S. inventory,” said Walton Levi, site project manager, PCAPP.

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