Pueblo, Colo., residents assured that chemical weapons destruction will continue

Members of a local panel overseeing the destruction of a chemical weapons stockpile in Pueblo, Colorado, were recently told not to worry about Pentagon fears that the work’s timeline could be extended.

Irene Kornelly, chairwoman of the Colorado Chemical Demilitarization Citizens Advisory Commission, told the panel that there has been no discussion of incinerating the material or of shipping wastewater offsite, options local residents fear when the U.S. Department of Defense begins to talk about changes to operations at the Pueblo Chemical Depot, according to Chieftain.com.

Commission members were recently informed that the weapons elimination program might face delays, and could, therefore, not be completed by the expected end of 2017. The destruction of the material may take until as long as 2019.

“I want to emphasize the term potential. It is not set in stone that we will not be done until 2019,” Kornelly said, Chieftan.com reports.

Kornelly said that the analysts who examined the program were tasked with looking at potential risks to the timeline and that they were incorrect in determining that other elimination programs would be delayed by period of three years.

“Risk can be anywhere to ‘We don't think that you’ve allowed enough time to finish systemization to we don’t think the equipment is going to work right the first time,’” Kornelly said, according to Chieftain.com.

Kornelly also announced that Conrad Whyne, the acting manager of the Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives Program, will participate in the commission’s July meeting to discuss what he is doing about the potential problems pointed out by the analysts.

"I don’t want anybody to think we're not going to be done by December 2017," Kornelly said, Chieftain.com  reports. "Mr. Whyne has assured me we are not going back to incineration and we are not sending hydrolysate off site."

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