The U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot observed its 80th anniversary in a celebration event on May 18.
“Decades of work here at PCD provided our soldiers with quality tools, ammunition and supplies that led to many successful military operations,” said Col. Jason A. Lacroix, commander, PCD. “For 80 years, PCD soldiers and civilians have lived the Army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage.”
“As we look to the future, you have my promise that we will endeavor to complete the destruction mission and close the plant safely and in accordance with the many regulations, laws and permits that govern that phase of our program,” said Nick Stamatakis, deputy program executive officer, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives, who was the keynote speaker at the event. “Thousands of people at PCD have dedicated their lives over the past 80 years to protect our freedoms and it shows how deeply they care about the defense of our nation.”
Originally known as the Pueblo Ordnance Depot, the approximately 23,000-acre installation began operations in 1942 during World War II. The depot’s original mission included the storage of Army materiel as well as conventional and chemical munitions. During the Korean War, as shipments of general supplies and ammunition increased, the depot reached its highest civilian strength of nearly 8,000 employees. As recently as Operation Desert Storm in 1991, the depot actively supported U.S. overseas operations.
In 1995, the depot was renamed from the Pueblo Army Depot to the Pueblo Chemical Depot, reflecting its final mission of safely and securely storing its stockpile of obsolete chemical weapons. Before chemical weapons destruction began at the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant in 2016, the stockpile consisted of approximately 780,000 projectiles containing more than 2,600 tons of mustard agent. As of May 18, less than 350 tons of agent remain at the depot. The United States is targeting completion of the destruction of the remaining stockpile by the Chemical Weapons Convention treaty commitment of Sept. 30, 2023. U.S. Public Law mandates stockpile destruction by Dec. 31, 2023.
“What our employees have accomplished here in the last 80 years is nothing short of amazing,” said Sheila Johnson, deputy commander, PCD. “I commend all who have carried out this critical mission of protecting the community and the environment through the safe and secure storage of the chemical weapons stockpile.”
The celebration included an aircraft flyover, posting of the colors from the Fort Carson Mountain Color Guard, the Pueblo County Junior ROTC Drill Team, recognition of depot employees, and information booths about the chemical depot’s history, the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program, PuebloPlex and the Pueblo Chemical Stockpile Outreach Office.