The United States government this week formally added three years to the current Bechtel contract to destroy 2,600 tons of surplus chemical weapons stored at the U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot in Colorado, adding provisions to accelerate the destruction to meet commitments to Congress and international treaty by end of 2023.
The contract modification includes the construction of three new structures called static detonation chambers to destroy munitions that could not be easily processed by automated equipment at the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant (PCAPP).
“The mission of this plant, our people, and our customer has international significance: to help rid the U.S. of chemical weapons,” said Barbara Rusinko, president of Bechtel’s Nuclear, Security & Environmental global business unit. “The team overcame the challenge posed by some munitions and is now simultaneously operating the main plant and building the new destruction facilities.”
"This is an important achievement that helps the program continue our most important responsibility--maintaining the safety of the community, the workforce and the environment," said Michael S. Abaie, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives program executive officer. "This puts us in a good position to complete the mission of the safe destruction of the chemical weapons stockpile stored at Pueblo Chemical Depot by December 2023 and the closure efforts that will follow."
The modification carries an estimated value of $1.2 billion. The work is being conducted under a cost-plus award fee contract to the U.S. Department of Defense Program Executive Office Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives (PEO ACWA). The first-of-a-kind plant began pilot operations in 2016 after completing design, construction, and testing. The plant has now destroyed more than 1,300 U.S. tons of mustard agent - more than half of the stockpile in Colorado. When operations are complete, the team will have destroyed more than 2,600 tons of mustard agent in three types of chemical weapons: 155mm projectiles, 105mm projectiles, and 4.2-inch mortar rounds. Then, the Bechtel Pueblo Team will ultimately close PCAPP.
The Bechtel Pueblo Team is made up of Bechtel National, Inc., Amentum, and Battelle Memorial Institute.
Historic commitment to global security
Since the 1980s, Bechtel has had an active role in U.S. and international efforts to eliminate chemical weapons. With the destruction of the stockpiles underway in Colorado and at a sister plant in Kentucky, along with previous projects in Alabama and Maryland, Bechtel will have safely eliminated nearly 5,000 tons of chemical weapons in rockets, artillery rounds, mortar shells, and storage canisters at four of the nine original U.S. storage depots.
Sprung structures will cover each Static Detonation Chamber unit. The tension fabric enclosures help protect equipment in unpredictable weather and surround the SDC units, which will augment main plant operations by destroying munitions not suited to the automated processes. Three SDC units will augment the main plant’s automated process of chemical neutralization followed by biotreatment to destroy problematic projectiles and 4.2-inch mortar rounds.
Workers at the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant erect the last of the inner ribbing for the sprung structure covering the first Static Detonation Chamber unit. Three SDC units will augment the main plant’s automated process of chemical neutralization followed by biotreatment to destroy problematic projectiles and 4.2-inch mortar rounds.