Feb 2, 2010 5:22 PM by Greg Boyce
President Obama's proposed 2011 federal budget includes funding to keep construction of a chemical weapons destruction facility on track. Congress has mandated destruction of thousands of mortars containing mustard agent at Pueblo Chemical Depot east of Pueblo by 2017. The facility is already under construction.
The President's budget proposal recommends $510 million for research and development and military construction funding, split between the Pueblo Chemical Depot in Colorado and the Bluegrass Army Depot in Kentucky. Of that, $240.2 million would go to the Pueblo Chemical Depot to continue construction and equipment installation at the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant.
The President's budget proposal now will be considered by Congress, which will decide whether to follow the recommendations or change the funding levels.
"I've been fighting for years for the government to keep faith with the people of Pueblo and ensure the weapons are destroyed at the Chemical Depot so we can keep good-paying jobs in Pueblo where they are badly needed. So this is very welcome news for us," Senator Mark Udall said. "The President's budget proposal keeps us moving in the right direction, and I'm going to keep fighting to ensure Congress follows through this year and in the years to come."
The Pueblo Chemical Depot holds 2,611 tons of liquid mustard agent. The Chemical Weapons Convention, ratified by Congress in 1997, requires these munitions to be destroyed by 2012. Because of schedule delays, management problems, and funding shortfalls, the Department of Defense has said that the U.S. will not meet the Chemical Weapons Convention treaty deadline. In 2007, Congress mandated complete all chemical weapons destruction activities by 2017.