Teamwork recharges disposal process

By Tim Hoyle DLA Disposition Services

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After more than a year, lead acid batteries used to support U.S. operations in Oman are being disposed of again thanks to new capabilities there and teamwork between two of the Defense Logistics Agency’s major subordinate commands.

Vickie Rodgers, DLA Disposition Services’ Central region deputy director, said the availability of a new contractor and a new type of disposal is allowing in-country disposal versus shipping batteries to Germany, “and the beauty is that we are going to use the DLA Energy representative in Oman to be the DLA face at the removal.”

Benjamin Beadles serves as a DLA Energy liaison there and conducted the lead acid battery facility inspection for DLA Disposition Services. The inspection allowed the contractor to be added to the Qualified Facilities List, making the company eligible for the contract. Beadles said the inspection visit went well, and the operations manager was helpful.

“He explained their licenses and permits and walked me through the process from start to finish, Beadles said. “Although it’s a local requirement, it is nice to see they went a bit above standards with their closed system to capture and process industrial run-off.”

Environmental Protection Specialist Calvin Taylor said the 14,319 pounds of batteries disposed of was a first for DLA in Oman. The capability arose after a 13-month delay waiting for authority to export the material for disposal. During that wait, an in-country disposal option became available for lead acid batteries.

“Before the in-country disposal option, batteries were shipped to Germany, and on average had a seven to nine month turn around for disposal,” Taylor said. “Previously, shipping for disposal would have cost $7,200 …, but with in-country disposal the cost is only $800 for transportation, saving our customers $6,400.”

Taylor explained that the new option also means the batteries can be recycled through a state of the art smelting and recoverable process. The process involves draining the acid, breaking down the battery and loading the parts into a separation unit. The lead to be processed is obtained in two forms after the separation; one form is the pure lead (poles and terminals) and the grids while the other form is the lead paste mixed in the electrolyte. Smelting and refining are used to eliminate impurities and increase the quality of the lead produced.

When it was time for the March 26 pickup, Beadles said that also went well. He said the contractors operating the support area at Oman’s Thumrait Air Base went above and beyond to rush base access passes, which is normally a two week process. They were also instrumental in “the expedient loading of the transportation sub-contractor’s tractor-trailer.”