It’s one of the last two remaining U.S. projects, but the team knows it can’t be rushed.
“With projects like these, safety, quality and
environmental compliance come well ahead of
budget and schedule,” Mr. Omichinski says.
As part of the CWC guidelines, OPCW has
treaty personnel at the Pueblo plant monitoring
compliance. Tracking by various international,
federal, state and county regulators, coupled
with the strict regulations associated with the
construction and operations of a hazardous waste-treatment facility, means every aspect of the
project is carefully scrutinized. “From a project
management perspective, it adds a lot of time to
the overall process as compared to commercial
construction,” Mr. Omichinski says.
Adding to the challenge is the vast array of
stakeholders involved in these projects, says Walton Levi, the U.S. government’s
acting site project manager. Government officials, local community
members, environmental activists,
and the international community
are all closely watching project
progress, requiring transparency and
regular feedback. “The best lesson
we’ve learned is the importance of
communication,” Mr. Levi says.
To keep the public informed,
the Pueblo team sends its message through a variety of channels.
Along with hosting monthly project
update meetings with community
stakeholders, it produces videos
explaining how the technology
works and shares that information
via YouTube, social networking
sites, newsletters and other media
outlets. “We want to be sure they
understand why we choose the
equipment or processes we do and
to show them that we have the
documentation to support our decisions,” Mr.
weapons destruction programs. “The United
States began with a much larger stockpile than
most other countries, but we’ve been successful in
attaining nearly all international treaty milestone
dates,” Mr. Levi says.
“We have benefited from a work force with
a great deal of chemical weapon demilitarization
experience, historical knowledge and practical lessons learned on our team,” says Mr. Levi.
Along with delivering their own projects,
Bechtel and the U.S. government have worked
closely with project teams in other nations, providing technologies, processes and funding.
The U.S. government, for example, is participating in a technology transfer with Russian teams overseeing projects to destroy chemical weapons facilities,
according to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Even after all the weapons are wiped out,
At the Pueblo plant, one of three distillate carbon filters is being staged on site to await
Even with all the scrutiny, the experience gained
at Pueblo and other sites has helped the United
States safely ramp up its position in international
many team members will be able to tap into their
experience and move into other complex projects
at nuclear facility construction and utility com-
panies, says Mr. Omichinski. “When you work
in such a highly regulated procedure-driven envi-
ronment, there are a lot of places you can go.”
—Sarah Fister Gale