PUEBLO, Co. — The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has honored the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) with the 2022 National Notable Achievement Award from EPA Headquarters.
The award recognizes the work of the Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division (HMWD) to safely destroy chemical weapons at the Army Pueblo Chemical Depot facility in Pueblo County.
The EPA commended HMWD’s Pueblo Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant team for an “exceptional collaborative approach to successfully issuing a license to operate under the Conservation and Reclamation Act.” resources (RCRA) for static detonation chambers to enable the safe destruction of chemical weapons waste. ”
“I am proud of the work this team has done to help safely dispose of these chemical weapons,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director of the state health department. “The destruction of the chemical weapons stockpile at the U.S. Army’s Pueblo Chemical Depot is very complex and requires considerable teamwork, and I appreciate how the EPA award highlights the efforts of our team.”
Since the mid-1940s, the U.S. Army’s Pueblo Chemical Depot has stored over 2,600 tons of agent mustard in projectiles and mortar shells. The repository is one of the last two stockpiles of chemical warfare agents in the country; Blue Grass Kentucky is the other. The destruction of these weapons is mandated by international arms control treaties. To date, 86% of stockpiles at the Pueblo Chemical Depot have been safely destroyed, according to Army data.
The depot’s static detonation chambers are armored stainless steel vessels that safely incinerate munitions. The static detonation chamber began operations on February 19, marking the final stage of the campaign to destroy chemical weapons stockpiled in Colorado.
The EPA award, in the category of “Exceptional Approaches to Meeting RCRA/TSCA Permit or Corrective Action Program Objectives,” recognized the department during a virtual ceremony.