Air Force to Use Dummy Bombs to Fight Groundwater Pollution

The Utah Test & Training Range (UTTR) on Hill Air Force Base (AFB) is a Superfund site, meaning abandoned hazardous waste exists requiring federal authority to clean it up. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are ten areas containing hazardous waste materials at Hill AFB. “In addition, Hill AFB deposited heavy metals and various solutions at Landfill #5 on the Utah Test and Training Range. The Air Force is monitoring this area in accordance with the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).” The Air Force is doing more than monitoring this site; they are using dummy bombs to clean up the mess.

Air Force to use crushed up lead dummy bombs to clean polluted groundwater

Air Force to use crushed up lead dummy bombs to clean polluted groundwater

UTTR’s mission is to:

Provide war fighters with a realistic training environment and conduct operational test and evaluation including tactical development and evaluation supporting large footprint weapon systems to enhance combat readiness, superiority, and sustainability.

All that “realistic training” has contaminated the groundwater at UTTR with the possible carcinogen trichloroethene (TCE). According to Greener Design, the Air Force is testing ground up fake bombs made from lead to filter the polluted water.

Iron strips TCE from water, so the Air Force bought a machine to crush up its piles of dummy bombs into small granules (right) and use the iron as a water filter…This is the first time dummy bombs have been enlisted to clean up the environment, and if the test is successful, the use of iron bombs will expand at the Utah site and could be used in other U.S. Department of Defense cleanup efforts.

The crushed up dummy bombs will fill 56 feet deep holes where there is the highest concentrations of TCE. Thirty four tons of crushed iron will be needed to fill all eight holes. After monitoring, the Air Force will decide if the project is economically feasible. It may be cheaper to buy lead rather than crush up old dummy bombs.

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Author: Jennifer Lance

  1. It seems this is an expensive way to do it, for they pay high prices for dummy bombs, when they can get medal from a recycle facility cheaper.

    But the government has to do it the expensive way.

  2. It’s great that they are removing TCE – (for which the military is responsible.)

    It’s good to see organisations taking responsibility for their own mess.

    Let’s hope the military will extend this type of scheme to other parts of their operations and not just inside the US!

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