Pueblo Depot surveying residents about safety

Residents who live or work near the Pueblo Chemical Depot in Pueblo, Colorado, are being surveyed by officials about safety measures meant to keep them secure.

The survey is part of the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program, and is conducted every two years, the Pueblo Chieftain reports. The phone survey starts this week and runs through the end of the month, according to Carl Ballinger, coordinator of the CSEPP program.

The depot holds approximately 780,000 artillery and mortar rounds which contain a total of 2,611 tons of mustard agent.

Ballinger told the Pueblo Chieftain that the CSEPP program, which is funded by the Department of Defense, is conducted to make sure citizens have the information they need to protect themselves in case there is an emergency at the depot.

In recent months, some of those shells at the Pueblo Depot were found to have been leaking inside the earth-covered igloos where they are housed. There have been no accidents or releases of mustard vapors that could threaten the community, the Pueblo Chieftain reports. Ballinger, however, said that the weapons do have explosives in them and that there is only a slight risk that an accident could happen.

Ballinger said that many of the weapons are scheduled to be removed from the igloos to a destruction facility in 2012. If an accident ever did occur, Ballinger said residents in the immediate area would be given emergency instructions, including where to evacuate to if the need arose.

“We strive to put information about emergency preparedness in our handouts, quarterly newsletters, annual calendars and in our face-to-face conversations with citizens,” Ballinger told the Pueblo Chieftain. “Now, we’d like to know if we have been successful but also, what we can do better.”