Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives (ACWA) enhances national security by destroying chemical weapons stockpiles in a safe and environmentally sound manner at the U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot (PCD) in Pueblo, Colorado, and Blue Grass Army Depot (BGAD) in Richmond, Kentucky.
Program Executive Office, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives (PEO ACWA), headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, is a U.S. Department of Defense-managed Major Defense Acquisition program tasked with the safe and environmentally compliant destruction of the remaining 10 percent of the original U.S. chemical weapons stockpile. Located respectively at the U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot (PCD) in Pueblo, Colorado and the Blue Grass Army Depot (BGAD) near Richmond, Kentucky, PEO ACWA’s destruction facilities are the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant (PCAPP) and Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant (BGCAPP). Additionally, PEO ACWA maintains a supporting field office on the Anniston Army Depot in Anniston, Alabama. Established by congressional legislation in 1996, PEO ACWA reports directly to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Threat Reduction and Arms Control), under the umbrella of the Department’s Chemical Demilitarization Program.
PEO ACWA is responsible for managing the design, construction, systemization, operation and closure of PCAPP and BGCAPP. PCAPP was designed to destroy 2,613 U.S. tons of the blister agent mustard stored in artillery projectiles and mortar rounds at PCD using neutralization followed by biotreatment. In 2002, PEO ACWA selected the Bechtel Pueblo Team as the systems contractor responsible for the design, construction, systemization (testing), pilot testing, operation and closure of the pilot plant. PCAPP entered pilot testing and began agent destruction operations on Sept. 7, 2016. BGCAPP will destroy 523 U.S. tons of the nerve agents VX and GB (sarin) and blister agent mustard stored in rockets and projectiles using neutralization followed by supercritical water oxidation. In 2003, the Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass team was awarded a systems contract to design, construct, systemize, pilot test, operate and close the facility. Systemization of BGCAPP is 77 percent complete and agent destruction operations are scheduled to begin in 2019. Stockpile destruction operations will be completed by the Dec. 31, 2023, congressionally-mandated destruction deadline.
BENEFIT TO THE SOLDIER
The ACWA program eliminates stockpile storage costs ($50-60 million per year) and will allow reallocation of the funding to support high-priority programs that will protect the warfighter.
- Will destroy mustard agent in 4.2-in mortar rounds, 105mm and 155mm projectiles
- Operational Concept: neutralization followed by biotreatment; explosive destruction technology for problematic munitions
- Will destroy mustard agent in 155mm projectiles; and nerve agent in 8-in. projectiles and M55 rockets.
- Operational Concept: neutralization followed by supercritical water oxidation for nerve agent; explosive destruction technology for mustard agent
The PCAPP facility began pilot testing, the gradual introduction of agent-filled munitions into the plant leading up to full scale destruction operations, on September 7, 2016 and is expected to enter full agent destruction operations in 2019. Systemization of BGCAPP is 77 percent complete and pilot testing is scheduled to begin in 2019.
Per Congressional mandate both sites will complete destruction no later than Dec. 31, 2023.