Pentagon says it may need more time to destroy chemical weapons

Officials at the Pentagon are warning that it may require more time than originally planned to destroy the chemical weapons at the Pueblo Chemical Depot in Pueblo, Colo.

The U.S. Army and Bechtel, the primary contractor for the program, planned to start destroying weapons in 2015 and finish by the end of 2017, which is also the deadline mandated by Congress, the Associated Press reports. Destroying the weapons has been a Congress priority.  

Conrad Whyne, the acting program manager, told the Pueblo Chieftain that part of the recertification program by Congress included a warning that the process could take two years longer than expected to finish the destruction of the weapons.

According to the U.S. Army, the Pueblo Chemical Depot houses a chemical stockpile that makes up around eight percent of the nation's original chemical weapon stockpile. As the facility awaits the start of the Department of Defense Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternative program, its mission is to safely and securely store the chemical stockpile, prepare it for destruction and prepare the depot for closure.

The depot received its first carload of ammunition in August 1942 and received and issued supplies during World War II, the Korean War, and Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Originally called the Pueblo Ordinance Depot, it was renamed the U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot in 1996.