As many as 13,000 chemical weapon at the Pueblo Chemical Depot might need special attention

A representative from the Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives Program recently told a Colorado citizen commission that as many as 13,000 chemical weapons might require special attention in their destruction at the Pueblo Chemical Depot.

Scott Susman, the lead engineer for the program, presented the information at the Colorado Chemical Demilitarization Citizens Advisory Commission in Avondale, Colorado, the Pueblo Chieftain reports. Susman said that the low-end estimate of problematic chemical weapons is more likely closer to 3,900. The rest of the weapons will go through a water neutralization process before robotic equipment takes them apart in 2015.

The original estimate of weapons that needed to bypass water neutralization is down significantly from the 125,000 officials estimated two years ago. All weapons deemed too dangerous for water neutralization will need to be destroyed in explosion chambers.

In addition, Susman told the commission that around 400,000 explosive components may be destroyed in Pueblo instead of being shipped off-site as originally planned, the Pueblo Chieftain reports.

The higher estimate of 13,000 comes largely from chemical weapon destruction tests at the Anniston Army Depot in Alabama. Those tests used robotic equipment that will be used at Pueblo. The linear projectile mortar disassembly equipment at Anniston ran into several problems.

The stockpile at the Pueblo Chemical Depot includes 780,000 weapons, with a total of 2,611 tons of mustard agent.