Air Force makes cents of scraps

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Diana M. Cossaboom
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
In 2013, about 754 aircraft trained on Poinsett Electronic Combat Range, dropping 1,070 bombs during the process.

One of the uses of the range is to provide an area where pilots can practice targeting using unguided bombs, aided munitions that use a GPS, and laser guided bombs.

However, the mission doesn't stop once the bombs hit the target. The 20th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal Airmen take charge from there.

"Every month, EOD Airmen come out and surface clean the different targets," said Onelio Renedo III, 20th Operations Support Squadron range operations officer. "We make sure there is no chance for someone to get hurt. EOD takes care for their part by clearing off the range. It is important that we are not polluting or contaminating and are being good (caretakers) of the range."

After EOD clears the range of the unexploded munitions, they store them in a fenced-in residue area on the range where the munitions wait to be turned into scrap metal and sold to a local vendor. The money received for the metal then goes back to the Air Force.

Every three to five years, contractors chosen by Air Combat Command inspect the munitions for explosive hazards and process the metal to be sold as scrap.

"An important part of the job is to demilitarize the munitions so they cannot be reused," said Bud Thrift, Timberline Environmental Services third party quality assurance officer.

"We separate the metals because they pay different prices for them and we try to give the most money back to the Air Force and recycle correctly," said Thrift. "It is important to recycle, to put this metal back into use instead of in the old days when they used to bury it all."

In fiscal year 2012 and 2013, eight ranges assigned to Air Combat Command, Air Force Special Operations Command and the Air National Guard processed 6,087 tons of munitions and target debris bringing in approximately $1.24 million to the Air Force.

In 2015, after about six years of accumulation, the contractors processed 312 tons of munitions and target debris at Poinsett Range with an estimated value of $44,665 to be collected by the Air Force.

"A lot of people are afraid to take this metal because it may have had explosive material in it, but that is why we are here and have EOD guys who check everything and separate it," said Thrift. "We tell the guy 'don't cut anything unless you see our two marks on it."

The two marks signify that there are no explosives or residue in the bomb and that it is ready to be turned into scrap metal.

This year, the metal that is being recycled to a local vendor will be melted down and turned into rebar, a concrete reinforcement steel.

The metal is no longer being wasted or contaminating the grounds. Recycling the material has to be done, but the fact that the Air Force is also getting something back is also great, said Renedo.