Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant (PCAPP)
The U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot originally stored more than 2,600 tons of the blister agent mustard in projectiles and mortar rounds.
The innovation, problem solving, and determination from the employees was the secret to success. The team overcame multiple challenges, including in-process leakers, corroded rounds, and mechanical failures. Workers had to routinely wear fully encapsulating Level A dress to optimize processing equipment and clean up pressurized chemical agent from the weapons. “Imagine threading a bolt onto a piece of equipment wearing four layers of gloves! What this workforce has accomplished with the demanding constraints is amazing.”
Kim Jackson, VP noted “My heartful thanks to the courageous men and women of PCAPP who worked directly on the front lines with the high hazards to accomplish this mission. They are American heroes.” PCAPPs culture of continuous improvement to actively implement innovations to address downtime issues led them to be recognized as the Department of Defenses’ most successful turnaround story. The team improved from 47,000 rounds per year destroyed to 243,0000 rounds destroyed in less than four years accelerating the mission by years!
Mark Evans, SVP of Science and Technology shared “The safe complete elimination of chemical weapons at Pueblo is remarkable not just in its achievement but in HOW it was achieved. When we started, we had a plan – and like any military person will tell you, a plan rarely survives “first contact with the enemy”. The Pueblo team was not deterred as circumstances changed and were relentless in pursuit of our goal – SAFE ELIMINATION. The team focused on solving issues on the ground when they could be solved. The team also remained open to integrating technical and operational innovations, optimizing and improving as we proceeded. At the end of the day, the team persevered – safely. It is remarkable work done by remarkable people. Congratulations to Team Pueblo – the State of Colorado, the nation, and the world is a better place due to your commitment!”
The Closure phase has begun in earnest. Beginning with the task of decontamination to eliminate the high hazards, the next step will involve equipment disassembly and size reduction, followed by completing preparations to demolish the processing buildings over the next three years.
Completion of these rounds marks the safe elimination of the largest chemical weapons stockpile remaining in the United States, achieving the Organization of the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons mandated United States Treaty commitment well in advance of the December 2023 date.
What is PCAPP?
PCAPP is safely destroying the stockpile of chemical weapons in storage at the U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Weapons Depot in Colorado.
The Pueblo Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant (PCAPP) was constructed and systemized to complete the demilitarization of over 780,000 mustard filled chemical weapons in Pueblo, Colorado. Amentum operates and maintains three facilities to support the overarching destruction of the chemical weapons and explosives including (1) the Main Plant for destruction of the stockpile (2) PCAPP Static Detonation Chambers to support destruction of problematic rounds that cannot be processed in the Main Plant and (3) Anniston, Alabama Static Detonation Chamber for processing of non-contaminated explosives.
Three different campaigns involving various sizes of projectiles are being destroyed as part of the PCAPP mission, including 299,554 - 155mm projectiles, 383,418 – 105mm projectiles, and 97,106 - 4.2” mortars. Operations commenced on September 7, 2016 with a series of pilot tests to confirm the plant emissions were compliant with all safety and environmental regulations. The plant utilizes neutralization followed by biotreatment of the treated effluent to demilitarize the stockpile.
The Amentum team is proud to support destruction of post- World War II legacy high hazard chemical weapons. Team PCAPP – here to make Pueblo, Colorado and the world a safer place!
CAMPAIGN COMPLETE: SEPT. 5 2020
CAMPAIGN COMPLETE: JULY 20 2022
4.2-inch Mortar Rounds
pcapp's LATEST NEWS!
"This team of highly skilled employees will complete destruction of over 780,000 chemical weapons, representing the second largest stockpile in the United States."
PCAPP Operations department celebrating the 10,000 countdown
The Operations team represents the heart and soul of the PCAPP mission. These courageous men and women are on the front lines support chemical weapons destruction, all while directly in the face of four high hazards – chemical agent, explosives, sulfuric acid and caustic. This team of highly skilled employees will complete destruction of over 780,000 chemical weapons, representing the second largest stockpile in the United States. The Operations team encompasses the Ordnance Technicians who handle the chemical weapons, the Control Room Operators who remotely process the chemical weapons and oversee all plant utilities, and the Plant Operators who ensure all plant utilities and equipment are operable to support the mission.
Due to their skill in high hazards, the majority of the Emergency Response Team is represented by the Operations department employees. The four crews perform contingency exercise training every month and rotate through a variety of evolutions to maintain their proficiency and emergency preparedness. Their attention to detail in handling the high hazards and noticing any deviation is critical. Employees on the front lines have identified numerous leakers and corroded chemical weapons that require additional controls or alternative processing paths at the Static Detonation Chambers to ensure operations remains safe for the employees, the public and the environment.
See more milestone stories -
Ordnance Technicians L-R Skyler Carpenter, Roy Maestas and Preston Wilson
Preston Wilson has been with the chemical demilitarization program since 2007, supporting destruction in Oregon and now Colorado. He is known for his strong leadership in the field, superb reader/checker direction, and positively encouraging his co-workers. Preston’s experience with chemical agent didn’t start at PCAPP. When Preston joined the Army, he was a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) specialist. Preston serves on the Emergency Rescue Team (ERT), Quest Team, ELITE Team and is a co-chair for the CAST team. He is very passionate about helping new employees he works with, either as a drill sergeant in the army, or today as a field lead. Beginning his Chem Demil work in Umatilla Oregon he made sure that his crew would rotate assignments and shifts to make sure they never got complacent.
Preston spotting for an employee driving the forklift.
At the monthly Welcome Back meeting following the crew’s seven days off, Preston is front and center assisting leadership in recognizing employees who have achieved significant milestones or receiving awards. Recently, he kicked off the “Voices of PCAPP,” bringing together musical talent to sing and play instruments to welcome the crew back to the plant! Preston plans to retire at the conclusion of mission operations His enthusiasm and care for his fellow employees is unmatched, and he will be sorely missed! All our best Preston!!!
Heidi Maynes is a control room operator and has worked at PCAPP for 8 years. What she likes best about working at PCAPP is that it is not a typical job. There is a lot to learn, and it is challenging in a good way. Heidi started out as an ordnance technician and worked her way up into the Control Room. As a control room operator, Heidi had to learn about every system and obtain the certifications for each one. These include systems like agent monitoring systems, compressed air systems and utility systems. She is proud of what she has accomplished!
PCAPP Salutes Preston and Heidi, and all the operations team members who are vital to the project’s success!!!!
Salute To Employees
"When one of his coworkers is struggling with a task, Carlos will step up to help."
Carlos Romero is one of our awesome Munition Transporters on the Operations Support team. That means, when PCAPP needs chemical weapons to be moved from storage to the plant, Carlos can jump in and support driving forklifts or Modified Ammunition Vans to support the mission.
Carlos is a Colorado native, graduating from Widefield High School in Colorado Springs in 1990. He has been married for 28 years and works alongside his father-in-law, Max Bernal, here at PCAPP. Outside of work, Carlos enjoys riding his Harley and restoring his 1965 Chevy Impala.
With over 8 years on the project, Carlos has had many experiences. During one scheduled MAV drive, he and his coworker had a close encounter of the slithering kind. “My partner and I were getting ready to switch places and a nice healthy diamond back rattle snake was rattling his tale for us to see! We both carefully backed away…. I have never seen another diamond back rattler that big at the main plant or at the SDC.” Carlos has also used his time to gain experience in other areas and has cross trained as a Level C Ordnance Technician.
“Carlos takes pride in the work he does… during the winter…(he’s) the first one to clean the MAV dock to eliminate the snow and ice… in the springtime he’s always cleaning the weeds” states David Burgos, Operations Support Supervisor, “When one of his coworkers is struggling with a task, Carlos will step up to help.“