Col. Gavin Gardener, U.S. Army Joint Munitions Command commander, and Col. Michael Cobb, Pueblo Chemical Depot commander, hosted two Members of Congress on February 9th for a familiarization visit to PCD, located about 20 miles east of Pueblo, Colorado’s city center.
Congressman Doug Lamborn and Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, whose district the installation is located in, received an overview of the depot, the process of demilitarization of the chemical munitions stockpile, environmental cleanup and protection efforts, and the transition of the land and facilities to the state of Colorado through PuebloPlex.
The depot, which reports to the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Activity, is one of two remaining Army installations in the United States storing chemical weapons. The primary mission of the depot is to ensure the safe, secure storage and transportation of the chemical weapons stockpile to the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant where the demilitarization takes place.
Tour stops included one of
PuebloPlex’s larger Civilian companies leasing a former military warehouse, a Static Detonation Chamber, and PCAPP. Kim Jackson, PCAPP plant manager, walked the delegation through the extensive demilitarization process explaining the nuances of the system. While travelling between stops, the colonels and agency officials answered questions of the delegates while educating them on the history and future of the mission and installation.
“I had the honor of touring the Pueblo Chemical Depot with my colleague and friend, Representative Boebert,” said Lamborn. “As the ranking member of the Readiness Subcommittee, which oversees our nation’s depots, I was grateful for the opportunity to witness how the outstanding team at the PCD successfully executes the handling, storing, and processing of our nation’s chemical weapons stockpile. This depot stands at the intersection of defense and public lands issues. I look forward to working closely with Congresswoman Boebert on these issues, which are crucial to the state of Colorado.”
Both Members of Congress reflected on their visit, recognizing the importance of the installation in fulfilling the government’s directive and ratification of the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, an international treaty calling for nations to destroy stockpiles and production facilities. PCD also is one of Pueblo County’s largest employers with approximately 1,590 employees and a projected payroll to date of nearly $2 billion.
“The Pueblo Chemical Depot plays a critical role in fulfilling international treaty obligations,” said Boebert. “This state-of-the-art facility places a premium on safety. The depot is also an important employer for Pueblo.
“I want to thank Col. Cobb and his team for this incredible tour. I was also thrilled to be joined by my friend and the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Readiness Doug Lamborn. His subcommittee has jurisdiction over the depot and his attendance today demonstrates that it is a priority.”
Construction of PCAPP begin in 2004 and completed in 2012 when testing of all systems began. On Sept. 7, 2016, processing started on the chemical stockpile — 2,600 tons of mustard agent in approximately 780,000 munitions — at the PCAPP main plant.
Looking ahead, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is currently engaged in ongoing environmental remediation of known munitions burial sites at PCD to return the land for safe, public use for the citizens of Colorado.
Overall, the Members of Congress were thankful for the insight to the mission and were encouraged about the relationship between military and Civilian leadership and their dedication to a successful transition of the installation.