WASHINGTON, March 17, 2015 – The process of destroying the chemical stockpile at the U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot is set to begin today in Colorado, defense officials said.
Samples of mustard agent were drawn from the munitions stored at the Pueblo Chemical Depot and placed into Department of Transportation bottles, like the ones shown here, for safe storage. Program Executive Office, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives photo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall granted final approval to begin destroying 2,611 tons of World War II-era mustard agent stored near Pueblo.
“After months of preparation, testing and scrutiny by oversight and regulatory agencies, the Pueblo team is ready to play its part in meeting our nation’s commitment to the 100 percent destruction of the U.S. chemical weapons stockpile,” Conrad F. Whyne said. Whyne is program executive officer for Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives, the responsible government agency.
Interesting. The Army has spent a fortune destroying chemical warfare stockpiles. Usually, an industrial incinerator is the method of destruction. But for these old munitions, it’s apparently not terribly safe to try to do that. So instead, they’ll place them in a huge pressure vessel, use a linear shaped charge to open the case, then neutralize the chemical agent with decontaminating agents.
Mustard gas is rather a nasty agent. Maybe not as lethal is most nerve agents, but still very scary.