U.S. Army Safely Stores the Nation’s Remaining Chemical Weapons StockpileTony wyaad September 19, 2019 3 Comments
The Program Executive Office, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives, or PEO ACWA, is preparing its chemical agent-destruction pilot plants in Colorado and Kentucky for full-scale operations. A historic milestone for the United States, the opening of these plants signals the beginning of the end of a significant mission: the safe and secure storage of the nation’s remaining chemical weapons stockpiles. For more than a half-century, this mission has belonged to the U.S. Army. Today, the Chemical Materials Activity, or CMA, is a world leader in the safe storage and destruction of chemical weapons. “The Chemical Materials Activity develops the operational plans that are used for the safe and secure storage, and the eventual transportation of the munitions.” CMA has performed these operations at seven other sites in the past and is applying lessons learned to the remaining sites in Colorado and Kentucky. The Pueblo stockpile consists of 2,611 tons of mustard agent stored in 4.2-inch mortars, 105mm and 155mm projectiles. The Blue Grass stockpile is comprised of 523 tons of nerve and blister agents stored in 155mm projectiles and 8-inch projectiles, as well as M55 and M56 rockets. “We’re lucky here; PCAPP has low humidity and the igloos keep the munitions in a relatively same temperature state. So actually, the munitions from the exterior looking at them inside the igloo look pristine. They’re almost as if they just came off the assembly line.” In addition to the safe storage of the stockpile, CMA will also oversee the process of transferring the munitions from the igloos to the destruction plants during operation activities. “Before the storage crews are allowed to transport or move any of the munitions, even inside the storage structure, we’ll go through a rigorous process. It’s actually called a preoperational safety survey. We have to validate that their procedures meet all the Army safety and health requirements and some of the general industry requirements.” These crews are highly trained and have the benefit of working with team members who have first-hand experience managing the safe movement of munitions. “We are involved in safety and transport. You name it – if it involves ammunition or anything surrounding ammunition, we’re involved. And that’s a great feeling.” CMA, and its crews at the Army depots, will continue keeping the stockpiles safe until the Pueblo and Blue Grass plants move into operations, toward the ultimate goal of safely destroying the nation’s remaining chemical weapons.