Published: January 13, 2012
Chem demil plant nearing completion
Chamber briefed on work that remains before 2015 start
By JOHN NORTON | email@example.com
Members of Pueblo’s business community received an update Thursday on one of the area’s biggest projects: the $3.6 billion effort to destroy one of the nation’s last stockpiles of chemical weapons.
Bruce Huenefeld, site project manager for the Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternative program, was the guest speaker at the monthly meeting of the Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce at the Pueblo Convention Center.
ACWA is an Army agency set up to oversee weapons destruction at the Pueblo Chemical Depot and at the Bluegrass Army Depot in Kentucky, both of which are using water neutralization techniques to destroy the mustard agent, rather than incineration, which has been used on most of the weapons already destroyed.
The Pueblo Chemical Depot houses 780,000 mortar rounds and artillery shells with 2,611 tons of mustard agent that will be washed out of the weapons, neutralized and the waste broken down in a biotreatment plant.
Huenefeld said that construction of the plant is 85 percent complete and all of the mechanical construction work should be done by the end of March. The program will involve a number of remote-controlled systems as well as robotic machinery — about 300 systems in all, of which 100 have already been assembled.
Over the next two years, the firms that Bechtel has assembled, including URS Corp. and Batelle Memorial Laboratories, will be developing procedures, testing equipment and training workers. Actual destruction of mustard agent is expected to begin in 2015 and, if all goes on schedule, finish by the end of 2017.
Huenefeld told chamber members that the program has had a major economic impact on Pueblo. So far, the Bechtel team has spent $91 million inside Pueblo County, $75 million of that with small businesses.
In other parts of Colorado, spending has totaled $156.7 million.
In addition, there are 754 construction workers still on the site and 581 people working in non-construction jobs, 189 of them hired locally.