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Pueblo Chemical Depot mission accomplished

Last chemical weapons stored in Pueblo to be destroyed by end of the month
Posted at 7:24 PM, Jun 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-09 21:24:50-04

PUEBLO — The mission of the Pueblo Chemical Depot is nearing completion.

The years-long process of destroying hundreds of thousands of chemical weapons is 99% complete and should be done by the end of the month.

"Mustard agent was first introduced in world war one, it was the first chemical weapons used in warfare. And it killed hundreds of 1000s of soldiers," said Plant Manager, Kim Jackson

Decades later, the Pueblo Chemical Depot is essential to fulfilling promises made at the chemical weapons convention during the 1990s.

The promise was to rid the world of chemical weapons and Pueblo is only one of two Army Installations left in the U.S. that stores chemical weapons, according to the U.S. Army.

The second is in Kentucky and should complete its weapons destrution mission by the end of the summer.

Crews at the Pueblo Chemical Depot have destroyed tens of thousands of chemical weapons one by one.

The stockpile at one time was near 780,000 chemical weapons.

They're down to the final mortars that are filled with mustard agent.

"This is really about great courageous men and women who are directly on the front lines dealing with chemical agent, explosives, high hazards," said Jackson.

Each mortar is carefully sent through a system of highly trained workers working with specially developed automated systems.

"We will reconfigure that munition and what you try to do is you you reverse assemble it," said Team Project Manager, Todd Ailes

First is defusing the explosive followed by the removal of the mustard agent.

The mortar is flushed with water at a force of 800 pounds per square inch to remove and dilute the agent.

Any contact in the removal area requires workers wearing completely sealed protective suits supported by outside ventilation.

Their body's vital signs are remotely monitored as they work.

Jackson adds context explaining that crews have to "figure out how to thread a bolt onto a piece of machinery with four layers of gloves. I mean, it's just amazing what the workers have done to keep the plant running very efficiently to support the mission."

The agent neutralized through biotreatment.

The end result is a salt-like substance that gets hauled to a hazardous material waste site.

The last chemical weapons stored in Pueblo will be gone by the end of the month.

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