The environmental manager at the Pueblo plant has been designated as the plant’s closure lead.
Patrick Sullivan, research scientist, has taken on the additional duties due to his scientific background and experience identifying and neutralizing harmful contaminants.
“The majority of the closure issues involve securing state permits to perform the various activities,” said Walton Levi, site project manager, Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant (PCAPP). “As environmental manager, Pat already is well integrated with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and his extensive background is a good match for the decontamination activities that will be required.”
The closure phase is anticipated to continue for three to four years after chemical weapons destruction operations end this year. It will encompass disposal of secondary wastes, decontamination and decommissioning of facilities and equipment, disposition of property, demolition of certain facilities and closure of government contracts and environmental permits. Sullivan said an approved plan is required before closure work can begin, but the team is already getting a head start on reducing the plant’s capacity by taking surplus capacity offline.
Sullivan came to PCAPP in 2013, having previously served in various research capacities detecting and neutralizing contaminants for both NASA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. While significant closure activity will involve the reduction of the workforce and transitioning employees to their next positions, Sullivan will focus his efforts on contaminants and documenting and verifying their removal from the site.
“We are looking at the contamination history of each structure, defining the scope of the work required, how to clean it, test it, then disassemble it, and ultimately remove it,” he said.
A small closure team meets regularly to compile decommissioning work packages for the various units and to formulate a permit request that the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment must approve before closure activities can begin. Half of the decommissioning work packages already have been produced.
In addition, the closure team must consider the possible future use of equipment and buildings by PuebloPlex, the plant’s designated reuse authority.