Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant Reaches Milestone

The team led by Bechtel at the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant (PCAPP) marked a significant milestone on February 5th, the safe elimination of 100,000 munitions from the chemical weapons stockpile located at the U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot in Colorado. 

The 100,000 munitions destroyed all contained mustard agent, "This milestone is a key step forward in achieving our mission here at PCAPP," said Bechtel Project Manager Bret Griebenow. "It is significant, and shows the operational ability of the plant, and our team, to safely and effectively destroy the remaining weapons."

PCAPP, the first of a kind plant, began operations in 2016 and presently processes around 400 munitions per day. The plant has now disposed of over 500 U.S. tons of chemical agent and when operations are complete, the team will have destroyed more than 2,600 tons of mustard agent in three types of chemical weapons. 

A first-of-a-kind robotic process is used at PCAPP to neutralize weapons by removing the explosive components from each projectile. The robotics then remotely access the weapon's interior and drain the liquid agent. The agent is chemically neutralized using hot water followed by the addition of a caustic solution so the chemical process can't be reversed. The resulting wastewater is transferred to the biotreatment stage, which consists of large tanks containing microbes that digest and further break down the solution into brine. The brine salt is separated and disposed at a permitted facility, and the water recycled back into the plant. The metal munition bodies are heated to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes and later shipped off site to be recycled.

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