One of the most important aspects of this project for our client was the reclamation of these costly metals and the refund of the recycle payments to the Government to help offset the cost of the services performed.
U.S. Army Tank-Automotive Armament Command (TACOM) had a surplus inventory of items that were contaminated and/or contained a variety of metals, including Germanium (Ge). Since these metals could be salvaged for re-use, the client required a contractor that could a) receive a variety of thermal sighting equipment; b) demilitarize the units to level ‘D’ (rendered unusable); c) remove and recycle all Ge lenses and windows; and d) dispose of non-Ge radioactive material.
We were tasked by TACOM to provide all services to resolve their issues at several bases/locations. Our contracted required that we remove and dispose of miscellaneous inventory, demilitarize parts, and reclaim the Ge from all lenses. We collected the damaged and excess thermal imaging equipment at the Army’s depot facilities located at Rock Island IL, Tobyhanna PA, and Anniston AL. Our brokers went to each location as scheduled and packed this equipment in semi-trucks and transported to our facility in Sacramento CA. The demilitarization and Ge recycling were performed by our staff at this facility.
Demilitarization was accomplished by disassembling the equipment into subcomponents, further disassembling the subcomponents, stripping out the circuit boards, and cutting the wiring. Most of these actions were also required to access the Ge lenses inside the units.
We used various methods to remove the Ge based on the type of lens involved. Some windows and lenses were removed by cutting the frames with a band saw and peeling the frame away from the glass. Once the lenses were removed, the Ge glass was separated from the other types of glass. The Ge lenses were then sorted by size and whether there were Thorium (Th)-230 coatings (either radioactive or non-radioactive). Our staff sorted counted, weighed, wrapped, and packaged the Ge lenses and windows, and then palletized the boxes into radioactive and non-radioactive shipments. We coordinated closely with two Army-approved Ge optics companies that we used for the recycling.
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