Colorado Chemical Weapons Destruction: 2018 Year In Review

Colorado Chemical Weapons Destruction: 2018 Year In Review


♪ (music) ♪>>Narrator: Located in Southeastern Colorado’s
arid plains, robots inside a pilot plant busily dismantle and drain tens of thousands of mustard
agent-filled munitions. It’s part of a noble mission to eliminate
a portion of the remaining 10-percent of the United States’ chemical weapons stockpile
by 2023. In 2018, the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction
Pilot Plant, or PCAPP, continued to build up to full scale agent destruction operations,
a phase known as ‘pilot testing.’ Using an elaborate two-step destruction process,
neutralization followed by biotreatement, the PCAPP facility has eliminated over 85,000
munitions and destroyed more than 500 U.S. tons of chemical agent. Now on a path of steady operations, PCAPP,
which began operations in 2016, has experienced some unplanned downtime. The government’s systems contractor, the
Bechtel Pueblo Team, continues to address system performance issues and make improvements
for greater efficiency. As a result, the Projectile/Mortar Disassembly
system, which robotically dismantles projectiles, and the Munitions Washout System, which drains
agent from projectiles, have seen increased throughput, the amount of munitions processed
on a consistent basis. The Program Executive Office, Assembled Chemical
Weapons Alternatives, or ACWA program, is overseeing the safe destruction of chemical
weapons at the Pueblo Chemical Depot in Colorado and the Blue Grass Army Depot in Kentucky. Throughout the year, ACWA continued to study
realistic options to accelerate the destruction timeline of 2023. In Colorado, those discussions with the community
focused on the use of the Static Detonation Chamber, or SDC, to augment the main plant. The SDC is a safe and proven technology which
uses thermal heat to detonate or deflagrate chemical weapons. In accordance with the National Environmental
Policy Act requirements army subject matter experts conducted an assessment and ultimately found the use of the SDC in Colorado would have no significant environmental impacts. Members of the Colorado chemical demilitarization
citizens’ advisory commission visited ACWA’s Alabama and Kentucky sites to get a first-hand
look at the technology. Meanwhile, ordnance technicians at the main
plant continued baseline reconfiguration, the process of removing projectiles from wooden
boxes and fiberboard tubes readying them for the plant’s automated systems. In February, the team finished the reconfiguration
of more than 28,000 105mm projectiles. In the spring, they started unpacking the
4.2-inch mortar rounds. In early fall, Immobilized Cell Bioreactors
resumed treating hydrolysate, the product of the neutralization of mustard agent. The biomass or bugs were seeded from a local
water reclamation facility. In the summer, the Explosive Destruction System
began its second campaign of eliminating munitions unsuitable for processing in the main plant. More than 2,100 tons of weaponized agent remains
at the Pueblo Chemical Depot, safely and securely stored, awaiting destruction. As the plant prepares to enter the full operations
phase, the Pueblo team’s commitment remains unwavering: safely and efficiently eliminating
the remaining Pueblo stockpile, while protecting the workforce, public and environment. ♪ (music) ♪

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