Pueblo Depot Mustard Agent Samples Shipped for Testing

Samples of mustard blister agent in vapor and liquid forms have been shipped from the Pueblo Chemical Depot in Colorado for testing at laboratories in Ohio and Texas, the Pueblo Chieftain reported today (see GSN, July 1).

The analyses are intended to identify the mix of materials within the chemical warfare agent before disposal operations begin. While chemical neutralization activities are expected to begin in 2015, part of the Pueblo stockpile might be destroyed earlier using mobile detonation technology (see GSN, July 29).

Colorado health officials also hope to learn what materials could be released from leaking munitions.

U.S. Army personnel from Pueblo and the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland collected the samples.

The project was "a superbly coordinated and cooperative effort between the state and the Army in support of continued safe storage of the chemical stockpile and its ultimate destruction," said Lt. Col. Robert Wittig, depot commander.

He added: "It also gave us an excellent real-world opportunity to test our procedures for command and control, emergency response and oversight of chemical operations. We are all better prepared for the future because of this operation.”

A facility in San Antonio, Texas, is expected to test the vapor samples for mustard agent, along with contaminants and other materials.

Roughly 1 1/4 gallons of liquid agent was taken to West Jefferson, Ohio, for analysis to make sure that up to date information is available for laboratory testing standards.

Pueblo stores about 2,600 tons of mustard agent, which is scheduled to be eliminated by 2017 (John Norton, Pueblo Chieftain, Aug. 3).

Meanwhile, design work has been finished for the facility that will conduct disposal operations for chemical warfare materials stored at the Blue Grass Army Depot in Kentucky, the Richmond Register reported.

“This milestone constitutes the completion of the design phase of the Blue Grass chemical weapons destruction program,” said Jeff Brubaker, site project manager for the Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant.

Design operations were conducted even as the facility was being built and some equipment acquired.

“Our first priority was to complete design of the site infrastructure and the three main processing buildings,” said Mark Seely, project manager for lead contractor Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass. “This approach allowed us to start site preparation and procure long-lead-time equipment while finishing design of support facilities.”

The installation holds 523 tons of nerve and mustard agents. Disposal operations are expected to be completed in 2021 (Richmond Register, Aug. 2).

August 3, 2010
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Samples of mustard blister agent in vapor and liquid forms have been shipped from the Pueblo Chemical Depot in Colorado for testing at laboratories in Ohio and Texas, the Pueblo Chieftain reported today (see GSN, July 1).