Thule AB officials turn 15K tons of scrap metal into $1M

Piping, fuel tanks and other scrap metal weighing more than 15,000 tons had accumulated at Thule AB during the last 15 years. An increase in scrap metal prices allowed a recycling project that netted the base a check for more than $1 million, as a recycling company came in and hauled the scrap off the island. (U.S. Air Force photo/Todd DeGarmo)

Piping, fuel tanks and other scrap metal weighing more than 15,000 tons had accumulated at Thule Air Base, Greenland, during the last 15 years. An increase in scrap metal prices allowed a recycling project that netted the base a check for more than $1 million, as a recycling company came in and hauled the scrap off the island. (U.S. Air Force photo/Todd DeGarmo)

THULE AIR BASE, Greenland (AFNS) -- Officials here were able to turn a 15,000 ton mound of scrap metal into more than $1 million and help clean the environment while they were at it.

About 15 years ago, a problem literally began growing here with the demolition of buildings around the base. The scrap metal was gathered at an empty space near the bay where fuel pipes, fuel tanks and other spare metal were continually added to the growing mound. Funding was requested to contract out the removal of the scrap metal, but higher priority funding requirements took precedence. When funding became available and a contractor was selected, the contractor backed out when he realized he only had a few months to remove the metal, and it could only be removed by ship.

"In 2010, the scrap metal market and the steel recycling market prices began to rise," said Phil Chase, from the 21st Civil Engineer Squadron. "The price of a ton of steel had risen to $435 a ton. A plan was formulated that could use the Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., Qualified Recycling Program to sell the scrap metal in a lot sale. Officials prepared an invitation for bid, advertised it and waited for any contractors were interested in buying the scrap metal. The stipulations included removing all the scrap metal by ship within 100 days at no cost to the Air Force or U.S. government and return to the QRP a percentage of the contractor proceeds for the scrap metal."

"Five bids were received, and the removal of the scrap metal was awarded to Aarsleff of Denmark," he said. "They were able to ensure payment for the metal prior to departing here, and they could remove it in one summer. Their equipment was already here and, with a few additional items, could begin preparing the metal for shipping as soon as the weather warmed up."

Work began late April to prepare the metal for shipping, Chase said. The first ship arrived here July 7 and departed July 9 loaded with scrap metal. Prior to departure, Aarsleff officials paid $1,026,906 towards the QRP.

"It's been a pleasure to see a contractor like Aarsleff put so much effort into the cleanup with such a short timeframe to accomplish the work," said Master Sgt. Michael Jacobs, assigned to the 21st CES. "They began organizing, cutting and preparing the scrap metal during the harsh parts of the winter to make sure their timeline for each ship was met."

(Courtesy of the 21st CES)