Government shutdown not expected to effect Pueblo Chemical Depot

As a federal government budget-related shutdown looms after March 4, Army and Bechtel officials assured Pueblo, Colorado, locals that the Pueblo Chemical Depot would continue to destroy the mustard agent stockpile stored there.  

During a meeting of the Colorado Chemical Demilitarization Citizens Advisory Commission, the question was brought up by Irene Kornelly, the commission’s chairman, the Chieftain reports.

“All those folks will continue to work,” Lt. Col. Rob Witting, the commander of the chemical depot said, according to the Chieftain.

Congress has been in a deadlock since it blocked a passage of continuing resolution and a defense appropriations bill that would keep funding going after March 4. There are approximately 780,000 mustard agent weapons stored at the Pueblo Chemical Depot.

While some functions not related to weapons security might be affected, “All the things relating to the stockpile, safe and secure storage, will be done,” Witting said, according to the Chieftain.

Walt Levi, the local manager for the Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives program, said that the ACWA is under a hiring freeze and that it should have enough cash on hand to weather a several month standstill in Congress.

“We having funding on hand to sustain us for several months and we will bring in those mission essential personnel to support (Bechtel manager) Paul (Henry),” Levi said, according to the Chieftain.

The Bechtel Pueblo Team was selected by the Department of Defense’s ACWA to build, design, operate and close a plant that will destroy the chemical weapons stored at the Pueblo Chemical Depot. According to manager Paul Henry, Bechtel has 928 employees working on the project.