Officials at Pueblo Chemical Depot held a ceremony last week to mark the beginning of a five-year effort to destroy 780,000 mustard gas shells at the central Colorado facility.
The ceremony follows several decades of planning and testing equipment to render the weapons harmless. The depot’s main plant began testing in 2010 to ensure the automated system that relies on robots works properly, reported the Colorado Springs Gazette.
“For more than 25 years, the citizens of Pueblo have waited for the day when we could say the chemical weapons at the depot are being destroyed,” said Irene Kornelly, who heads the depot’s citizen’s advisory committee.
The depot is scheduled to begin destroying its stockpile, which represents most of the nation’s remaining chemical weapons, in the fall and finish in 2019. The $3.5 billion destruction program employs nearly 1,000 workers, according to the story.