Mustard agent storage lawsuit settled in Colorado

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced Monday that a lawsuit with the U.S. Department of Defense regarding the storage of mustard agent at the Pueblo Chemical Depot has been settled.

“Our mission always has been to make sure the chemical weapons are stored in a manner consistent with the Colorado hazardous waste regulations,” Gary Baughman, director of the Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division for the state health department, said.  “We look forward to continued cooperation between the state and Department of Defense.”

The state health department said that the munitions are stored in 94 earth-covered concrete igloos. The igloos were, until recently, ventilating into the environment. In an effort to increase worker safety, the state health department said, several new steps have been taken, including "monitoring munitions at lower concentrations, monitoring for mustard agent releases outside the igloos and monitoring to verify the composition and concentration of the other hazardous waste constituents that may be contained in any releases that may occur."

The Department of Defense agreed in the settlement, which is still pending a U.S. District Judge's approval, to operate the facility in accordance with the state of Colorado health department's waste analysis plan.  

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