A Bechtel-led team has commenced the destruction of the final stockpile of US chemical weapons at a plant in Kentucky, US.

Start of destruction at the Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant (BGCAPP) near Richmond, Kentucky marks the commencement of the last leg of the nation’s goal of permanently eradicating chemical weapons.

The country aims to destroy 523t of mustard and nerve agents by the end of 2023.

The team has begun the destruction of a Second World War-era projectile loaded with mustard agent.

Cold War-era chemical munitions have been stored at the Blue Grass Army Depot for decades.

Bechtel nuclear, security and environmental global business unit president Barbara Rusinko said: “Eliminating the nation’s chemical weapons has been a high-priority mission for Bechtel and the government for many years. To reach this day, at the final site, is a milestone of international significance and I congratulate our team.”

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In the coming weeks, the team will ramp up the destruction of more than 15,000 mustard munitions.

The destruction of a larger set of nerve agent munitions will be undertaken in the main plant later this year.

BGCAPP was built by Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass, a joint venture between Bechtel National and Parsons Government Services under a US Department of Defense contract to build and operate the plant.

“Eliminating the nation’s chemical weapons has been a high-priority mission for Bechtel and the government for many years.”

The US is committed to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which is a multilateral treaty that bans chemical weapons and requires member nations to destroy them in a time-bound manner.

Implemented by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), CWC has more than 190 member states.

DoD threat reduction and arms control deputy assistant secretary Dr Charles Ball said: “We made a commitment ‘for the sake of all mankind, to exclude completely the possibility of the use of chemical weapons’. Every day, we are making good on the government’s commitment as expeditiously as possible, while ensuring maximum protection of the public, your co-workers, and the environment.”

The Bechtel-led team will perform the destruction of mustard agent munitions in the Explosive Destruction Technology facility using a static detonation chamber.