The US Government has extended Bechtel‘s contract for another three years for the destruction of 2,600t of surplus chemical weapons.

The contract also adds provisions to accelerate destruction aimed at meeting commitments to Congress and international treaty by the end of 2023.

Weapons to be destructed are stored at the US Army Pueblo Chemical Depot in Colorado.

The extended contract has been modified and is valued at $1.2bn, to include construction of three new structures, called static detonation chambers.

These chambers assist in the destruction of munitions which are difficult to process by automated equipment at the destruction pilot plant.

Operations are conducted under a cost-plus award fee contract to the US Department of Defense Program Executive Office Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives (PEO ACWA).

Following the completion of design, construction and testing, the plant piloted operations in 2016.

Bechtel Nuclear, Security & Environmental global business unit president Barbara Rusinko said: “The mission of this plant, our people, and our customer has international significance: to help rid the US of chemical weapons.

“The team overcame the challenge posed by some munitions and is now simultaneously operating the main plant and building the new destruction facilities.”

To date, the plant has destroyed more than 1,300t of mustard agent consisting of more than half of the stockpile in Colorado.

The team aims to destroy more than 2,600t of mustard agent in three types of chemical weapons: 155mm projectiles, 105mm projectiles, and 4.2in mortar rounds.

Following the completion of the mission, the US Army Pueblo Chemical Depot will be indefinitely closed.

Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives programme executive officer Michael Abaie said: “This is an important achievement that helps the programme continue our most important responsibility, maintaining the safety of the community, the workforce and the environment.

“This puts us in a good position to complete the mission of the safe destruction of the chemical weapons stockpile stored at Pueblo Chemical Depot by December 2023 and the closure efforts that will follow.”