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. In 1985, Congress decided to turn the aging weapons into a harmless part of history. Today, a Bechtel-led team is destroying chemical weapons under contract to the Program Executive Office - Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives and supporting national commitments under the Chemical Weapons Convention.
The Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant (PCAPP) is a state-of-the-art facility built to safely and efficiently destroy the chemical weapons stockpile currently in storage at the U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot near Pueblo, Colorado.
The Bechtel Pueblo Team, which includes Bechtel, URS, Battelle Memorial Institute, and Parsons Infrastructure and Technology, won the competition in 2002 to design, build, test, operate, and ultimately close PCAPP after destroying the stockpile.
More than 2,600 tons of mustard agent in artillery projectiles and mortar rounds stored here. After the chemical weapons have been eliminated, the plant will be closed in an environmentally responsible manner. Unlike other demilitarization facilities, this one dismantles munitions using a first-of-a-kind robotic process.
Bechtel is also building the Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant in Richmond, Kentucky.
Achievements to date
The Bechtel Pueblo Team has earned a number of 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.
As of February 2020, the Pueblo Chemical-Agent Destruction Pilot Plant had destroyed 50% of the stored mustard agent awaiting destruction. The 50% agent destruction mark equates to more than 220,000 munitions that have been destroyed and eliminated from the U.S. Army stockpile.
Initial operations achieved in 2016
PCAPP began initial operations in September of 2016, destroying its first-ever chemical weapons. The milestone brought the U.S. one step closer to meeting treaty obligations to destroy its remaining chemical weapons stockpile. The construction phase of the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant was completed in 2013. During construction, craft workers hired from the Colorado Building & Construction Trades Council, installed more than $200 million worth of underground utilities, redundant electrical and control systems, titanium piping and storage systems, and specialized first-of-a-kind equipment.
PCAPP completed its systemization phase in 2016, a period during which more than 300 associated subsystems, spread over an 85-acre site, were tested to make sure they work and function together properly.
Static Detonation Chambers
As of December 2019, construction began to erect three Sprung structures that will house the Static Detonation Chambers (SDCs) at the Pueblo site. The three SDCs will support the main plant by destroying 4.2-inch mortar rounds and any projectiles not suitable for the automated processing in the main plant. These chambers safely destroy chemical munitions, energetics, and associated waste items using indirect heat.
Visit the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant website.