Colorado Readies Plant for Trashing Weapons

Sat October 16, 2004 - West Edition

PUEBLO, CO (AP) A groundbreaking ceremony for a $1.6 billion plant to destroy munitions filled with mustard gas was held Sept. 18 amid worries the war in Iraq would delay its construction.

In December or January, some 50 to 100 workers will begin clearing land at the U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot to begin construction on the plant expected to be completed in early 2007.

The plant will destroy some 788,000 rounds of 105mm and 155mm projectiles and 4.2-inch mortars. Plans call for the plant to be finished with its work in 2013.

However signs that the plant could be delayed are cropping up. The depot was expected to receive $151.6 million for fiscal 2005 but received $50 million.

“The whole chemical demilitarization program has become a stepsister to the war in Iraq,” said Ross Vincent, a Pueblo resident and Sierra Club member. “If there isn’t enough money, we’re the ones that are going to take the hit.”

A spokeswoman for Sen. Wayne Allard, R-CO, said it’s too early to know how much money will be available for fiscal year 2006.

The budget will not be made public until February.