The Projectile/Mortar Disassembly (PMD) system at the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant (PCAPP) consists of three identical robotic systems that help ensure the safety of the workforce and the environment. This system safely dismantled 155mm and 105mm projectiles during the first and second destruction campaigns. The third campaign, destruction of 4.2-inch mortar rounds, is currently underway. The PMD allows very precise munitions placement and parts removal. All three PMDs remove the munitions’ energetic components (bursters, boosters and fuzes) before the munitions are transferred to the Agent Processing Building, where mustard agent is drained and neutralized.
The PMDs are positioned in three Explosive Containment Rooms (ECR) within the Enhanced Reconfiguration Building. Each ECR – with 25-inch-thick concrete walls and ceiling, as well as a 4-foot-thick concrete floor – is designed to contain a blast in the unlikely event one should occur. The PMDs pick up munitions one by one from a conveyor system and move them through three different processing stations. Each station performs a specific function to remove parts from the munition body. A fourth station checks to make sure no residual explosive material remains in the munition body. Control Room operators, who have extensive experience and training with robotic systems, operate and monitor the PMD, which can process munition in 60-80 seconds.
Here is how the 4.2-inch mortar round system works:
The fuze/burster combination is unscrewed from the munition.
To meet treaty requirements, the threads in the munition body are deformed.
The munition body is monitored for agent.
The munition is checked to ensure no explosive material remains.
Non-contaminated energetics, or explosive parts, are packaged for transport to the Energetics Service Magazine where they await shipment to the Static Detonation Chamber (SDC) unit in Alabama for final destruction.
Some munitions will not be easily processed through the main destruction plant, including those that have leaked, are overpacked, or rejected due to their condition. These munitions, along with contaminated energetics, will be safely processed in the PCAPP SDC complex.
The Program Executive Office, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives is responsible for completing stockpile destruction operations by the Chemical Weapons Convention treaty commitment of Sept. 30, 2023. U.S. public law mandates stockpile destruction by Dec. 31, 2023.