(PUEBLO, Colo.) — The Pueblo Chemical Depot announced on Thursday, June 8, it is on track to destroy nearly all of its chemical weapons by September.
Not only is this an accomplishment for Southern Colorado, but also the world.
In 1997, countries came together to sign a Chemical Weapons treaty to agree to get rid of all chemical weapons by Sept. 30, 2023.
“As recently as a few years ago, we weren’t sure we could actually achieve our treaty commitment,” said Kingston Reif, deputy assistant of defense for threat reductions and arms control. “So, the fact that we are on the doorstep of doing so is no small feat.”
In 2016, the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot plant started with of 780,000 munitions to be destroyed. Now, they are just under 4,000.
“I’m delighted to be here with all of my colleagues to highlight the incredible progress that we have made,” Kingston said.
The Pueblo plant is a leader in not just incernating the munitions, but using water to neutralize the mustard agent.
“One of the things we helped innovate and design was a first-of-a-kind water treatment system where we could recover the water we used in the plant and be able to reuse it,” said Kim Jackson, manager of the Pueblo plant.
The plant uses 200,000 gallons of water a day, so this helps them reuse 99-percent of it.
“That is so meaningful in that we’re not draining the water supply in our state, ” Jackson said.
Military and government leaders also highlighted the efforts of the more than 1,500 employees on the project, most of them coming from Pueblo County.
“The workforce is absolutely outstanding,” said Sheila Johnson, commander’s representative for the U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot. “We have men and women who are committed every day to coming here and accomplishing their mission.”
After the project is over and is redeveloped by PuebloPlex, an emerging development west of the city, overseers of the plant said they are linking up with industries in the area to make sure their workforce is able to find work.
“We can link up the welder, the mechanic, you know, the operator… and so as they have open positions, they are working directly with us so that we can place our people who want to stay local,” Jackson said.