project recycles more than six million pounds of steel
The U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency (CMA)
recently completed a project that resulted in recycling more
than 6.5 million pounds of steel.
In September 2003, CMA began operating the Pine Bluff Ton Container
Decontamination Facility at Pine Bluff Arsenal, Arkansas to decontaminate
4,307 ton containers (TC) stored at the arsenal. Although empty,
the 1,600 lb. steel containers once held hazardous materials
and required decontamination to eliminate residual chemical agent
prior to recycling.
Initial efforts to decontaminate the TCs involved rinsing them;
however, the residual chemical agent proved difficult to remove,
so a new approach was needed.
When faced with producing an additional 660,000 gallons of hazardous
liquid waste to rinse the containers, CMA personnel designed
a magnetic induction heating process to decontaminate up to 10
containers simultaneously. Not only did this generate significantly
less waste, but it also thoroughly decontaminated the TCs so
they could be processed through a commercial recycling plant.
The 6.5 million pounds of steel recycled – enough to build 26
Statues of Liberty – supports the Army’s commitment to protect
the environment, as well as CMA’s history of commitment to ridding
the Nation of chemical weapons.
The process used an electrically energized copper coil, wrapped
around the container, to generate a magnetic field that was absorbed
by the iron in the container. This raised the temperature of
the TC to more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, where it was held
for 60 minutes. Heating to 1,000 degrees destroys all chemical
agents. The decontamination process also featured a carefully
designed pollution abatement system to capture any residual material
vented from the TCs.