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US Reaches Milestone In Destroying Mustard Agent In Colorado

pu_bta_brs_salt_cakes-bin_9feb16.jpg
Courtesy Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant
Salt cakes, which are the contaminated remnants of neutralized mustard agent, at the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant.

The Army says it has reached a milestone at a Colorado chemical weapons depot by destroying nearly 300,000 decades-old artillery shells containing mustard agent.

Walton Levi, site project manager of the U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot, made the announcement in a depot publication on Tuesday.

READ MORE: In Pueblo, America's Chemical Weapons Era Nears An End

Depot workers destroyed the last of the 155mm World War II-era shells on Saturday. Each shell contained nearly 12 pounds of mustard agent, which can maim or kill, blistering skin, scarring eyes and inflaming airways.

The plant started operating in 2016 with more than 780,000 munitions in its original stockpile containing 2,500 U.S. tons of mustard agent. It is eradicating shells under an international treaty banning chemical weapons with a 2023 projected completion date.

Plant technicians will retrofit robots and other systems used to handle and destroy munitions before beginning work to eliminate 105mm projectiles with 3 pounds each of mustard agent.

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