Original Date: 04/07/1997
Revision Date: 04/14/2003
Best Practice : Recycling/Demilling Ton Containers and Process Equipment
Rock Island Arsenal (RIA) has employed its sophisticated equipment and manpower to solve the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (RMA) problem of disposal of ton containers (TCs). The treaty obligations between the U.S. and former Soviet Union require demilitarizing (demil) of containers that may have held one or more types of chemical agents. RMA requested that RIA demil over 4,000 decontaminated chemical agent containers, commonly called TCs, and about 1,800 tons of process equipment by melting them in the RIA foundry. RMA chemically and thermally decontaminated approximately 25% of the containers to the 5X condition per Army Regulation 385-61, which renders them safe for human contact without any personal protective equipment. The remaining containers and equipment were chemically decontaminated to 3X condition, which can be handled but cannot be heated in an open furnace. RIA obtained a new air emission permit from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA). All of the 5X containers were melted into ingots two months ahead of schedule and sold for recycling by the Defense Reutilization Marketing Office during 1994.
To recycle the 3X TCs and process equipment, RIA designed and modified its existing furnaces in the heat treating shop by upgrading the facility with construction of an afterburner and stack monitoring equipment. RIA has applied and received a construction permit for modification of the furnaces and air emission permits for heat treating and melting the containers and process equipment. Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact were also submitted to the IEPA. No adverse comments were received from the public after public notification. Thirteen containers (26 half TCs) or 30,000 pounds of process equipment at a time are being heat treated at 1,250°F for 90 minutes to convert 3X to 5X condition. RIA is capable of recycling/demilling about 3,000 TCs or 2,400 tons of equipment per year on a single shift per day basis. Capacity can be tripled without major upgrade of equipment.
The success of the operation has generated interest for disposal of other equipment such as bomb shells and artillery projectiles. RIA has negotiated and signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Edgewood, Maryland to recycle/demil 1,700 3X TCs. RIA is seeking to recycle/demil for at least three other military and commercial clients. Liability, accountability, cost, and the ownership by the government are the main reasons RIA has been selected to recycle and/or demil the chemical agent ton containers, artillery projectiles, bomb shells, and process equipment. RIA has found potential buyers for the ingots produced from the containers. One of the buyers is a local farm implements manufacturer who needs the type of high grade steel from which the TCs were made. Such a recycling project would indeed “turn swords into plowshares."
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