Pueblo Chemical Depot: 25% of Mustard Agent Now Destroyed

In this Jan. 29, 2015, file photo, a remotely controlled robot handles an inert simulated chemical munition during training at the Pueblo Chemical Depot in southern Colorado. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
In this Jan. 29, 2015, file photo, a remotely controlled robot handles an inert simulated chemical munition during training at the Pueblo Chemical Depot in southern Colorado. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

One quarter of all the mustard agent stored in old Cold War-era weapons at the Pueblo Chemical Depot has now been destroyed, officials announced this week.

The weapons -- old 155 mm and 105 mm howitzer shells, plus mortar rounds -- are being dismantled and destroyed at the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant and Army officials announced this week that 112,400 of the 155 mm rounds have been destroyed.

They contained more than 600 tons of mustard agent, roughly one-quarter of all the mustard agent that is stored at the depot in old munitions.

"With the destruction of each 155 mm munition, we also eliminate 11.7 pounds of mustard agent," said Walton Levi, the acting site project manager, in a statement this week.

He said the total mustard agent destroyed was a quarter of the 2,600 tons stored at the Pueblo depot.

Most of the U.S. military's chemical agent weapons have been destroyed and the remaining mustard agent weapons are stored at the Pueblo depot.

The chemical "demilitarization" process at Pueblo began with a stockpile of 780,000 projectiles -- the 155 mm, 105 mm and 4.2-inch mortar shells stored in the depot's high-security igloos.

The Pueblo neutralization plant began operating in September 2016 and has destroyed 112,400 of the projectiles to date.

Officials with the Pentagon's Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives, which oversees the depot's neutralization program, still intend to bring several "static detonation chambers" to the depot to deal with problem rounds that are so decomposed they can't be processed in the water-neutralization plant.

The detonation chambers essentially act like a kiln, super-heating the rounds and burning up both the mustard agent and the explosives in the rounds.

This article is written by Peter Roper from The Pueblo Chieftain, Colo. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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