The Program Executive Office, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives, known as PEO ACWA, was responsible for the safe and environmentally compliant destruction of the remaining U.S. chemical weapons stockpile stored at the U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot (PCD) in Colorado and the Blue Grass Army Depot in Kentucky, and is now responsible for the closure of the destruction facilities.
The Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant, or PCAPP, destroyed the stockpile in Colorado and the Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant, or BGCAPP, destroyed the stockpile in Kentucky, completing U.S. stockpile destruction operations by the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) treaty commitment of Sept. 30, 2023. PEO ACWA will continue to prioritize the safety of the workforce, community and environment throughout the closure process.
Destruction of the declared U.S. chemical weapons stockpile stored in Colorado and Kentucky was completed July 7, 2023, fulfilling the nation’s commitment to the CWC. The facilities will be closed in a safe, environmentally protective and compliant manner and in accordance with all applicable laws, regulations and requirements. The process of chemical destruction facility closure involves five major factors and is sequenced to occur in compliance with all permits, regulations and requirements. These include:
- Decontamination: removal of residual contamination to safe and environmental protective levels, as prescribed by permits
- Decommissioning: rendering equipment safe for removal and eventual demolition
- Dispositioning: transfer of government personal property for reuse, sale, recycling or disposal; and reconfiguring property for return to the respective U.S. Army installation
- Demolition: Removal of facilities not required for future Army use
- Administrative closeout: closure of environmental permits, closing of contracts and interagency agreements, and archiving of records.
PEO ACWA benefits from personnel who have experience from previous U.S. chemical demilitarization projects, some of whom have participated in closure activities at the seven former locations. Other well-trained workers within the program will also provide knowledge and expertise during this process. It will be necessary to retain members of the highly skilled, valued workforce for several more years to ensure the final part of the mission is completed.
As the plants transition into or conduct their closure phases, certain workforce positions will become non-essential to the functioning of the plants, and those workforce members will move on to other opportunities, including retirement. The government and contractor companies have programs in
place to realign personnel with other available positions within their structures, and the communities around the plants are investigating possibilities for retaining skilled personnel through other local business opportunities.
At the completion of the closure phase, the ACWA program will conclude, ending formal ties and interactions with numerous stakeholders who have engaged with PEO ACWA’s activities.
Safety and Protection of the Environment
The destruction of the U.S. chemical weapons stockpile eliminated the risk associated with its storage in Pueblo and Madison counties and nearby communities. The highly trained workforce’s implementation of strict safety procedures during operations will continue throughout closure activities. The program is committed to completing the closure phase as efficiently as possible and in a safe, environmentally protective and compliant manner.
PEO ACWA is a tenant organization which means it is part of one military organization occupying facilities on an installation of another military organization from which it receives services and support. Closure involves two types of government property: real property and personal property.
Real property includes land, buildings, structures and utilities. PEO ACWA constructed specialized improvements (buildings and infrastructure) on the installations’ real property to execute its chemical demilitarization mission. These improvements are owned by the U.S. Army. As a tenant, PEO ACWA does not make decisions regarding the retention or removal of real property, as these decisions are under the purview and authority of the U.S. Army through the appropriate chain of command.
Personal property generally includes items such as equipment, spares and repair parts. Excess personal property will be screened for reuse within the Army and other federal organizations prior to being made available to the public. During closure of the destruction plants, government personal property that is no longer needed for mission requirements will be declared as “excess” and screened by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) or General Services Administration (GSA) for reuse by other federal agencies. If the property is declared excess to the needs of the federal government, it is designated as “surplus” property and is made available through several means to the public. PEO ACWA’s primary responsibility for personal property ends when it is declared excess and returned to DLA or GSA. GSA is responsible for dispositioning of any personal property that is declared as surplus.
PEO ACWA is working to communicate effectively and collaborate with the responsible Army authorities in the closure of its facilities and provide stakeholders with information necessary to make decisions concerning reuse and property disposition.
PEO ACWA will continue its ongoing program participation with all stakeholders to engender confidence and sustainable decision making. Organizations that regulate, interact with and support the PEO ACWA program, such as the Department of Defense, U.S. Army Materiel Command, U.S. Army Joint Munitions Command, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, will continue their missions after the chemical weapons demilitarization program closes. Other organizations that support PEO ACWA, such as the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Activity, will be reduced and focus on the remaining parts of their missions. As mandated by Congress, the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program, or CSEPP, created specifically in support of and in response to the U.S. chemical weapons stockpile, will end after the stockpile is eliminated, and all remaining agent in accessible form is destroyed. CSEPP funding will continue until 180 days following termination of surety status. In the case of the Blue Grass facility, the site will remain in surety status beyond operations into the closure phase, until all drained rocket warheads containing recoverable agent, considered secondary waste, are destroyed.
Governor-appointed state Chemical Demilitarization Citizens’ Advisory Commissions (CAC) and their various diverse subcommittees are the primary avenue for interested citizens to have a voice regarding the chemical destruction projects in Colorado and Kentucky. Since the commissions’ inception by Congressional mandate in 1996, local communities have had the opportunity to become involved through their respective CAC in all project phases, issues and achievements. The CACs will remain active until either the end of closure activities or upon the request of the governor of that commission’s state. At PCAPP and BGCAPP, specific working groups exist for citizens to provide input specifically associated with the closure phase. For information on how to get involved, please visit the ACWA Public Involvement website page.
Plant Closure Milestones
PEO ACWA will recognize key closure phase milestones to maintain transparency with stakeholders and raise awareness of the U.S. progress towards facility closure and the completion of the U.S. commitment to destroy 100% of the U.S. chemical weapons stockpile.
|End of Stockpile
|All munitions drained and chemical agent neutralized in accordance with Chemical Weapons Convention treaty commitment requirements.
|End of Surety
|All accountable quantities of chemical agent have been destroyed.
|Non-agent processing areas and equipment have been decontaminated or removed to achieve Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Permit Facility Closure Plan criteria.
|Decontamination Complete/Unventilated Monitoring Tests (UMT)
|Agent processing areas and equipment have been decontaminated or removed to achieve RCRA Permit Facility Closure Plan criteria as demonstrated by the UMT.
|Per End State Memoranda of Understanding, destruction of buildings is completed.
|Verification and reporting confirmed with state and national environmental agencies that the sites meet permit closure conditions.
|Administrative Closeout/Property Turnover
|All property is dispositioned per designated and approved processes, facilities are vacated and turned over to depot or end user responsibility, contracts and intra service support agreements are closed, and responsibility for prior execution year program administrative close out is handed over to another organization.