Base Contact Information
Pueblo Chemical Depot Public Affairs Office: (719) 549-4135, (719) 549-4118
Pueblo Chemical Stockpile Outreach Office: (719) 296-5902
Geography and Area Information
The Pueblo Chemical Depot is located at 38° 16′ 26″ N, 104° 20′ 34″ W in Pueblo County Colorado approximately 14 miles east of the city of Pueblo, 40 miles south of Colorado Springs and 115 miles south of the State Capital Denver. The 23,000 acre (36 square mile) facility is found in an arid section of southern Colorado adjacent to Youtsey Airport directly off of State Highway 96/50 which forms its southern border. The northern border of the facility is found just south of the intersection of DOT Test Road and Thatcher Road. The east and west borders of the installation are marked by IL Ranch Road and DOT Test Road respectively. The area around the Pueblo Chemical Depot is one of the driest in Colorado despite being less than 100 miles from major ski destinations. The region is referred to as the “Banana Belt” and receives and average of only 14 inches of precipitation annually and regularly experiences triple digit temperatures in the summer months.
The Pueblo Chemical Depot was established in 1942 as the Pueblo Depot Activity Facility to serve as a storage facility for materials and ammunition and shipping hub supporting troops in the European theater. This mission continued into the 1950’s and with the start of the Cold War and rising tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union the role of the Pueblo Depot Activity Facility changed dramatically. The new mission of the facility was as a major maintenance and repair facility for Army Pershing Missile Systems. The facility continued operating under this mission at full capacity well into the Vietnam era.
In 1975 the Department of The Army withdrew most of the missile system responsibilities from the Pueblo Depot Activity Facility but the base continued to support the Pershing Missile System in a limited role. When the US and USSR signed the INF Treaty on elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles on December 8, 1987 169 Pershing IA missiles and 111 Pershing II missiles were in storage at the facility. These munitions would eventually be dismantled and destroyed in house at the Pueblo Depot Activity Facility and at the Longhorn Army Ammunition Plant in Texas.
In 1988 as part of the Base Realignment and Closure Report the Department Of Defense recommended the Pueblo Depot Activity Facility be realigned to meet the growing need for chemical weapons storage and destruction. In 1990 the Pueblo Depot Activity Facility was renamed the Pueblo Chemical Depot and its primary mission was changed to the storage of United States chemical and biological weapons.
Primary and Ancillary functions
The primary mission of the Pueblo Chemical Weapons Depot is the safe storage of a portion of the United States chemical weapons arsenal. As one of nine Army facilities tasked with this mission, the Pueblo Chemical Depot stores 2,611 tons of mustard chemical agents in 780,000 individual munitions ranging from small crew served mortars to larger projectiles like artillery rounds. Overall this accounts for approximately 7% of the United States chemical weapons stockpile.
The facility has 922 above ground earth and concrete covered igloos that are used for storage though only 102 actually contain chemical weapons. Empty igloos can be leased for private and commercial storage through the Reuse Authority of Pueblo County.
The Pueblo Chemical Depot has been storing blister and mustard agents since the 1950’s but the role is changing from storage to full scale destruction and dismantling of munitions. The Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant was expedited by the 2010 Presidential Budget Request. After a testing period full scale destruction operations are planned to start in mid-2014 and be completed by 2017. The Pueblo Chemical Weapons Depot will operate until all munitions have been destroyed and then sanitation and closure operations will begin. This will include neutralization of all facilities with a hot caustic solution followed by a bacterial bio-treatment that will destroy any remaining traces of mustard or blister agent. The conclusion of cleanup operations and closure of the Pueblo Chemical Depot is expected to come in 2020, 8 years past the original April 2012 deadline set by the Chemical Weapons Convention.
The storage of chemical munitions at the Pueblo Chemical Depot requires that a portion of the facility be closed to public access. G Block, where the chemical weapons are stored is restricted to public access. Questions regarding access can be fielded by the facility contractor Bechtel Pueblo at 719-549-5280. Information of storage in unused igloos and access can be found by contacting the Pueblo Depot Activity Development board or the Pueblo Chemical Depot Public Affairs Office.