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Bechtel’s Impact Report

Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant

Colorado, US
Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant

Pueblo Plant team Completes Chemical Weapons Stockpile Destruction

Bechtel led the team that destroyed the chemical weapons stockpile at the U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot in Pueblo, Colorado.

Though never used by the United States, chemical weapons were stockpiled by the U.S. Army at a number of bases during and after World War II. Bechtel was contracted by the Department of Defense, Program Executive Office, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives, to support their mission of meeting national commitments under the Chemical Weapons Convention to destroy the nation’s chemical weapons stockpile before September 2023.

The Bechtel Pueblo Team, which includes Bechtel, Amentum, and Battelle was awarded the contract in 2002 to design, build, test, and operate the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant (PCAPP).

The Bechtel team brought expertise and innovation in implementing first-of-a-kind technology to safely destroy the munitions at the Pueblo Chemical Depot. Unlike other demilitarization facilities, PCAPP dismantled munitions using a first-of-a-kind robotic process.

The Bechtel-led team destroyed more than 780,000 projectiles and mortars holding 2,613 tons of mustard agent during three munitions destructions campaigns. The technology used to safely destroy the weapons included neutralization followed by biotreatment and explosive destruction technologies. These munitions were from the WWII era and were stored at the Pueblo Chemical Depot.  

The final munition at the Pueblo Chemical Depot was destroyed in June 2023.

Now that the entire stockpile in Colorado has been destroyed, PCAPP will enter the closure phase, which will continue for two to three years. This mission includes the disposal of all secondary wastes, decontamination and decommissioning of facilities and equipment, disposition of property, demolition of certain facilities, and closure of government contracts and environmental permits in accordance with laws and regulations.

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Implementing first-of-a-kind technology, the PCAPP team worked with precision and attention to every detail, reaching 12,757,567 hours without a lost-time incident. 

The Bechtel Pueblo Team has earned a number of safety honors, including exceptional achievement, or Star level, in the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Voluntary Protection Program. This program recognizes U.S. worksites that have exemplary records and demonstrate commitment to workplace safety and health.


The Pueblo Chemical Depot originally stored three kinds of mustard-agent filled weapons: 155mm and 105mm projectiles and 4.2-inch mortar rounds.

The Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives program worked together with the community to select a safe technology—neutralization followed by biotreatment—to destroy the chemical weapons stored at the depot.

In the end, three different technologies were used to destroy the stockpile. The projectiles and a portion of the 4.2-inch mortar rounds were destroyed in the main plant under the supervision of trained operators using automated technology. The mustard agent was neutralized and the resulting product, known as hydrolysate, was broken down into salt, water and organics using living microbes in a biotreatment process.    

Projectiles deemed unsuitable for automated processing and the remaining mortar rounds were destroyed by Static Detonation Chambers.  Earlier, 951 problematic projectiles were destroyed using an Explosive Destruction System between 2015 and 2018. 

Partnering with the Local Community

The Bechtel-led team regularly engaged with the community throughout the project. Regular meetings were held with local civic and government organizations, including:

  • Chemical Demilitarization Citizens’ Advisory Commission
  • Pueblo City Council
  • Pueblo Economic Development Corporation
  • Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program

The Pueblo workforce included many residents from Pueblo county and the state of Colorado. Local payroll to date has surpassed $2.67 billion, with over $547 million spent with Colorado companies.

In addition to workforce and supply chain investments, the Bechtel Pueblo Team worked throughout the 20-year lifespan of the project with local charities including the Boys & Girls Club of Pueblo County, University of Colorado-Colorado Springs Senior Design Projects, and United Way of Pueblo County.

A key aspect of the closure phase of the contract is Total Workforce Planning, an initiative to connect plant workers with new job opportunities and provide training that can help employees transfer valuable skills to related industries and jobs.