Individuals from more than 30 local, state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot and the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant, gathered in Pueblo May 3 for the final annual Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program exercise.
“CSEPP has been a huge windfall for Pueblo. While important for the community to be prepared for an event with the chemical weapons stockpile, the fact that emergency preparedness can be used for wildfires and other weather emergencies is a significant asset to our community,” said Irene Kornelly, chair, Colorado Chemical Demilitarization Citizens’ Advisory Commission.
Scheduled the first week of May each year, the Pueblo CSEPP exercise tested local participants’ response capabilities to simulated emergencies while exercise officials evaluated performance and provided feedback.
“CSEPP has benefited Pueblo County immensely over the past three decades bringing in resources, equipment, training and a new state-of-the-art emergency operations center, all of which have enhanced our community’s emergency response capabilities,” said Gayle Perez, public information officer, CSEPP.
The program, administered by the U.S. Army and Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, will end preparedness assistance for a participating community 180 days after the installation commander where chemical weapons are stored certifies destruction of the chemical weapons stockpile. Chemical weapons stockpile destruction operations are expected to be complete this year ahead of the U.S. commitment to the Chemical Weapons Convention of September 30, 2023 and the requirements of public law mandating destruction by December 30, 2023.
“The infrastructure and training opportunities that have been brought to Pueblo County through CSEPP will continue to benefit this community long after the program goes away,” Perez said.