PUEBLO, Co. — The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has honored the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) with the 2022 EPA Headquarters’ National Notable Achievement Award.
The award recognizes the Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division’s (HMWD) work to safely destroy chemical weapons at the Army Pueblo Chemical Depot facility in Pueblo County.
The EPA praised the HMWD ’s Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant team for an “outstanding, collaborative approach to successfully issue a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) operating permit for Static Detonation Chambers to enable the safe destruction of waste chemical weapons.”
“I’m proud of the work this team has done to help safely dispose of these chemical weapons,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director of the state health department. “Destroying the chemical weapons stockpile at the U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot is highly complex and requires a great deal of teamwork, and I appreciate how the EPA award shines a spotlight on our team’s efforts.”
Since the mid-1940s, the U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot has stored more than 2,600 tons of mustard agent in projectiles and mortar rounds. The depot is one of the last two remaining stockpiles of chemical warfare agents in the nation; Blue Grass Kentucky is the other. Destruction of these weapons is mandated by international arms control treaties. To date, 86% of the stockpile at the Pueblo Chemical Depot has been safely destroyed, according to Army data.
The depot’s Static Detonation Chambers are armored, stainless steel vessels that safely incinerate munitions. The Static Detonation Chamber started operations on Feb. 19, marking the final step in the campaign to destroy the chemical weapons stockpiled in Colorado.
The EPA award, in the category of “Outstanding Approaches to Achieve RCRA/TSCA Permitting or Corrective Action Program Goals,” has recognized the department during a virtual ceremony.