Pueblo Depot ramping up chemical destruction workforce

The companies collaborating to destroy the stockpile of chemical weapons at the Pueblo Chemical Depot in Pueblo, Colo., are ramping up their workforces in preparation for the project.

The new workforce will develop the systems for the complex task of opening, emptying and neutralizing hundreds of thousands of artillery and mortar rounds in a project expected to begin in 2015, the Pueblo Chieftain reports.

Doug Omichinski, the project manager for Bechtel, the project's prime contractor, gave an update to the Colorado Chemical Demilitarization Citizens Advisory Commission on Wednesday night.

Other companies involved include URS, which will operate much of the equipment, and Battelle, which will do laboratory testing.

Omichinski said that Bechtel currently has 565 construction workers on the site, 445 of them are direct hires and the rest work under subcontractors. Of all of the hires, 182 of them are local. Omichinski said that while at times the portion of local hires has been 75 percent, with 82 percent of the construction work done, most of the activity is interior work.

 “We knew we’d be short electricians in the Pueblo area and also pipefitters,” Omichinski said, according to the Pueblo Chieftain. “Once (positions) come open and are advertised, you’ll see them in the next few months. I think you’ll see more visibility in the community as far as advertisement of positions."

When weapon destruction gets under way in 2015, Omichinski said employment should peak at around 1,200, with most working for URS. The goal is to complete the project by 2017 with another couple of years needed to dismantle the plant.