Streamers and confetti fly at the conclusion of the event celebrating the destruction of the chemical weapons stockpile in Pueblo, Colorado. More than 650 people attended the public event at the Pueblo Convention Center Aug. 30.
Irene Kornelly, chair, Colorado Chemical Demilitarization Citizens’ Advisory Commission, receives recognition for her patriotic service during the Pueblo End of Destruction Operations celebration Aug. 30.
Col. Rodney D. McCutcheon, commander, U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot, presents a U.S. flag to Eppie Griego, chair, Pueblo Board of County Commissioners. The flag was first flown over the Pentagon before being presented at the depot when chemical weapons destruction operations began in 2015. Since then, the flag was on display in the control room of the pilot plant.
Community members gathered with government officials and project staff in Pueblo, Colorado, Aug. 30 to commemorate the destruction of the declared U.S. chemical weapons stockpile in Colorado.
“Our celebration acknowledged the accomplishment of safely destroying the chemical weapons stockpile stored at the U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot,” said Walton Levi, site project manager, Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant. “In successfully eliminating these lethal weapons, we have fulfilled our commitment to the global community and made our world a safer place.”
Plant workers destroyed more than 780,000 mustard agent-filled projectiles and mortar rounds containing more than 2,613 U.S. tons of chemical agent. Destruction of the obsolete munitions began March 18, 2015, and the final round was destroyed June 22.
“I am still in awe of this landmark accomplishment, the completion of what was nearly seven years of destruction operations, totaling 2,613 U.S. tons of chemical agent and over 780,000 munitions stored here at the Pueblo Chemical Depot,” said Deborah Rosenblum, Assistant Secretary of Defense, Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defense Programs. “This milestone would not have been possible without the leadership of the Program Executive Officer for Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives, Mr. Mike Abaie; the partnership with our contractors – Bechtel and Amentum, and the determination of the workforce here at Colorado, who remained committed and focused until that final munition was destroyed … “
“We are here to recognize the extraordinary people whose unselfish commitment to their country made this occasion possible” Abaie said. He asked workforce and community members who had directly supported the program in the past to stand as the crowd of more than 650 applauded.
The event at the Pueblo Convention Center featured guest speakers that included the Honorable Jared Polis, Colorado Governor, Pueblo Mayor Nicholas Gradisar, officials from the Departments of Defense and State, and executives from the Bechtel Pueblo contractor team. Awards were presented to community and workforce members, and Rosenblum read a letter of appreciation to the community from U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris.