- Associated Press - Thursday, June 9, 2016

PUEBLO, Colo. (AP) - The Army says a plant that will destroy the nation’s largest remaining stockpile of mustard agent won’t start operating until September instead of this spring as planned.

Officials said Thursday that mechanical problems cropped up during tests at the Pueblo Chemical Depot outside Pueblo.

The $4.5 billion plant will disassemble and neutralize 780,000 shells containing 2,600 U.S. tons of the chemical weapon. The Army says the delay was caused by leaks and vibration in pumps, as well as steam-injection problems.

The complex plant will use water to neutralize the mustard agent and then add bacteria to digest and convert the remaining chemicals. The end product can be disposed of at a hazardous waste dump.

The weapons are being destroyed under international treaty.

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