Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program
Since the 1950s, the United States has maintained a stockpile of chemical munitions. Although the U.S. never used the chemical weapons in combat, the Army produced the weapons to deter the threat of chemical attacks from foreign forces. Previously, the United States stored chemical agents at eight sites across the country:
Currently, only two of those sites, Colorado and Kentucky, still store chemical agent. The other sites has safely disposed of their chemical stockpile. Colorado's Stockpile is scheduled to be completely destroyed by December 2023.
Under the direction of Congress the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program (CSEPP) was created in 1988. Since the beginning of CSEPP, Pueblo County, the U.S. Army and its Pueblo Chemical Depot, the State of Colorado and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have worked together to improve their ability to protect the area immediately surrounding the Pueblo Chemical Depot (PCD).
Pueblo Chemical Depot (PCD)
Approximately 8.5% of the nation's original stockpile is stored at the U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot located east of Pueblo. The PCD sits on 23,000 acres in Pueblo County. The stockpile held at PCD consists of mustard agent stored in projectiles and mortar rounds. The munitions are stored in the PCDs chemical storage area in earth-covered structures called igloos. The munition storage area is a secure area that is patrolled 24 hours a day.
Although the possibility of an emergency involving the stored chemical weapons at the Pueblo Chemical Depot is 1 in 100,000,000, an important function of emergency planning is identification of areas that could be affected in an emergency. The areas surrounding the Pueblo Chemical Depot are divided into Emergency Planning Zones (PDF) - the Immediate Response Zone and the Protective Action Zone.
Improvements & Equipment
Improvements and equipment provided to Pueblo County through CSEPP, are available for use in the event of any major emergency. Some of the CSEPP funded benefits include:
- Communications and Alerting Equipment (Outdoor Warning System and Weather Radios)
- Improved Emergency Operations Centers
- Training and Protective Equipment for Emergency Responders
The improvements and equipment that CSEPP provide will remain in place even after the stockpile has been destroyed.