Bechtel announced today that the project team at the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant has received the American Institute of Chemical Engineers’ 2014 Engineering and Construction Award, one of the organization’s most prestigious honors. Bechtel, along with URS, Battelle Memorial Institute, and General Physics, is designing, building, and starting up the facility that will safely destroy a stockpile of chemical weapons currently in storage at the U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot in Colorado.
The Bechtel Pueblo Team was recognized for successfully completing the design and construction of the plant, which includes a new approach to chemical warfare agent elimination. As an alternative to incineration, the plant will chemically neutralize the mustard agent and use microbes to consume the secondary waste, known as hydrolysate.
“The team brought an innovative approach to safely solving a complex problem,” said Bechtel Project Manager Rick Holmes. “They worked with the government and the community to develop a new way to accomplish the mission of destroying chemical weapons.”
The AIChE award recognizes teams or individuals for achievement in the design and construction of process plants or improvements based on the project’s contribution impact, magnitude of challenges, and innovation and technical creativity.
“The plant’s design and construction are the result of substantial teamwork and technical accomplishment,” said Bechtel’s Craig Myler, chief engineer for Process and Nuclear Engineering. “The new treatment process integrates with existing safety measures that address mustard agent, propellants, high explosives, and other hazards. It’s important work for the nation and for the world.”
The plant will play a historic and key role in meeting U.S. obligations to safely eliminate the remaining 10 percent of the nation’s decades-old chemical weapons stockpile under the Chemical Weapons Convention, a 1997 treaty signed by 190 countries. Built under contract to the U.S. Department of Defense’s Program Executive Office, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives, the plant has entered its final testing phase and is expected to begin operations in by early 2016.
Bechtel is leading the team building a sister plant in Richmond, Kentucky, that will destroy mustard agent as well as VX and GB nerve agent—an effort that will complete the U.S. treaty obligation. The chemical weapons disassembly and destruction plants are two projects in Bechtel’s diverse government portfolio that includes site management and operations, environmental restoration, defense, space, energy, and global security.