PEO ACWA Overview
The United States chemical weapons stockpile served as an important deterrent for more than half a century, but by 1985, with the rise of international concern regarding the effects of chemical warfare, Congress directed the Army to destroy the stockpile. The Program Manager for Chemical Demilitarization (PMCD) was the organization formed by the Army to carry out this mission. At the time, the only proven chemical weapons destruction technology was incineration. As plans for the destruction of the stockpile were developed, environmental organizations, community members living near stockpile sites, and government regulatory agencies began discussing other means by which the stockpile might be destroyed.
In 1996, in response to these discussions, Congress established the Assembled Chemical Weapons Assessment program, known as ACWA, under Public Law 104-208 to identify and demonstrate at least two technologies as alternatives to incineration for the destruction of assembled chemical weapons (assembled chemical weapons meaning munitions containing chemical agent configured with fuzes, explosives and propellant).
In its initial 1996 law, and again in follow-on legislation two years later (Public Law 105-261), Congress directed that the ACWA program be conducted independently from the Army’s chemical demilitarization effort under PMCD, and further stipulated that the ACWA program manager report directly to the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
Upon ACWA’s successful demonstration of several alternative technologies from 1997 to 2000, the Department of Defense selected neutralization followed by biotreatment for destruction of the stockpile at the U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot in Colorado in 2002, and neutralization followed by supercritical water oxidation in 2003 for the stockpile at the Blue Grass Army Depot in Kentucky.