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Pueblo Chemical Weapons Disposal Plant 85% Complete, Official Says

Construction is 85 percent finished on the neutralization facility intended to destroy mustard agent and weapons stored at the Pueblo Chemical Depot in Colorado, the Pueblo Chieftain reported on Friday (see GSN, Sept. 28, 2011).

Bruce Huenefeld, site project manager for the U.S. Army's Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives program, told Pueblo city business leaders on Thursday that all hardware construction on the biotreatment plant was expected to be completed before April.

Preparatory activities, including vetting the plant's systems and preparing workers to use the technology, is expected to last two years. Elimination of 780,000 mortars and artillery munitions and 2,611 tons of blister agent is anticipated to start in 2015 and to wrap up in 2017.

The ACWA program is also building a neutralization facility at the Blue Grass Army Depot in Colorado, which is expected to complete demilitarization operations by 2021. Together, the Colorado and Kentucky sites hold 10 percent of the declared U.S. stockpile of chemical weapons materials.

Another Army branch, the Chemical Materials Agency, expects in early 2012 to finish off the other 90 percent of the chemical arsenal.

The Chemical Weapons Convention requires the United States to destroy its stockpile of banned substances by 2012. Washington has long acknowledged that it will not meet that deadline (see GSN, Dec. 1, 2011; John Norton, Pueblo Chieftain, Jan. 13).

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