Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program
The United States has maintained a stockpile of chemical munitions since the 1950’s. 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. Currently, the United States safely stores chemical agents at eight sites across the country. These sites are located in Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Oregon, and Utah.
Until the chemical weapons are completely destroyed nationwide, Congress ordered the creation of a program to enhance emergency preparedness of the communities surrounding each chemical storage site. In 1988, the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program (CSEPP) began nationwide to enhance emergency preparedness plans and procedures. Since CSEPP began, 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 Pueblo County.
The improvements and equipment provided to Pueblo County through CSEPP are available for use in the event of any major emergency, and will remain in place even after the stockpile is destroyed. Some of the CSEPP funded benefits include training and protective equipment for emergency responders, communications and alerting equipment, and improved Emergency Operation Centers. Training is ongoing and approximately 1,000 personnel receive training annually. An exercise is also held annually to test the response capabilities of all cooperating agencies.
Although the possibility of an emergency involving the stored chemical weapons at Pueblo Chemical Depot is 1 in 100,000,000, an important function of emergency planning is the identification of those areas that could be affected in an emergency.