The Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant celebrated the completion of the second of three chemical weapons destruction campaigns today.
The PCAPP team, with the U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot safely destroyed 383,000 of the 105mm projectiles containing mustard gas, leaving only 10% of the project left to be finished.
These World War II era weapons were kept in the U.S Army Pueblo Chemical Depot to be guarded for the chemical weapons stockpile.
This 105mm destruction campaign began in December of 2020, in compliance with CDC guidelines and the Department of Defense, and with the completion of the first campaign to eradicate the 155mm missiles, the plant has safely removed more than 2,300 tons of dangerous chemical agent.
Mayor Nick Gradisar says PCAPP is a major employer of the Pueblo area, as they saw economic development in the area.
"It's been a really good benefit to the City of Pueblo to see this process move forward"
He wants to continue to encourage these workers to remain in Pueblo after the end of the project.
The three campaigns are required to be completed by September 2023 in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention Treaty, where the U.S. has committed to depleting its entire stockpile by the end of 2023.
Michael Abaie, the Program Executive Officer of PEO ACWA, says to safely eradicate the mustard gas missiles, the PEO ACWA is responsible for the neutralization and biotreatment of the dangerous chemicals.
”We use neutralization to actually take the mustard agent, add caustic and hot water, and cycle that many times over and that reduces the toxicity of the mustard agent.”
He says this is followed by a biotreatment process, using bugs eat the remnants of the solution and break it down into water and salt cakes where it is recycled.
"We wanna make sure that anytime we get a workforce coming in any proximity with those, they are suited in higher protective equipment."
The facility also uses robotics and an air filtration system to cut back on safety risks.
The final campaign is in the works as PCAPP takes care of the remaining 4.2 inch mortar rounds, inching the U.S. to the completion of the entire chemical weapons stockpile.
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