In a hard-won triumph for environmentalists, the Pentagon announced yesterday that it will use a water-neutralization process, rather than incineration, to destroy 2,600 tons of mustard gas stored at Colorado’s Pueblo Chemical Depot and other sites. The Chemical Weapons Working Group, a watchdog organization, applauded the decision, calling neutralization safe and effective. But in Oregon, Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) expressed concerns yesterday about the proposed neutralization of 2,440 tons of mustard gas stockpiled at the Umatilla Chemical Depot, questioning whether arid eastern Oregon could afford to divert so much water. Kitzhaber also noted that the neutralization process would yield 27 million gallons of contaminated water, and questioned the “eleventh hour” nature of the plan. Defense Undersecretary E.C. Aldridge said the Army is working quickly to destroy chemical weapons so they do not become terrorist targets. The U.S. is also hustling to dispose of some 30,000 tons of such weapons by 2007, as mandated by international treaty, although the Pentagon has said it will miss that deadline.