Defense Department, state reach chemical storage settlement

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The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has reached an agreement with the Department of Defense about the chemical weapons stored at the Pueblo Chemical Depot.

The agreement requires additional monitoring procedures of the mustard agent currently stored at the depot. The final agreement is pending the U.S. District Court judge’s approval, and ends a lawsuit that stretches decades between the state and the DoD.

“Our mission has always been to make sure the chemical weapons are stored in a manner consistent with the Colorado hazardous waste regulations,” said Gary Bauchman, director of the hazardous materials and waste management division of the health department. “We look forward to continued cooperation.”

The munitions are stored in 94 earth-covered concrete igloos that, until recently, ventilated to the environment. A waste analysis plan for the facility that required additional monitoring procedures for the waste munitions to increase worker safety was approved by the state in May 2009.

The agreement includes the following additional monitoring procedures:
- monitoring the munitions at lower concentrations
- monitoring for mustard agent releases outside the igloo
- monitoring to verify the composition and concentration of other hazardous waste constituents.

The DoD closed the vents in February, and will be installing charcoal filters on the vents to capture any chemicals before they are released.