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Altus shop improvement reuses waste water

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Clinton Atkins
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
Airmen from the 97th Maintenance Directorate wheel and tire shop recently improved the way they wash aircraft wheels, which will save the Air Force more than $47,000 and reduce hazardous waste generation by more than 27,000 pounds annually.

When the shop focused on increasing efficiency, the end result was the implementation of an environmentally friendly waste water treatment system that cleans the water used to wash dirty wheels by running it through a biological media system, said George Corey, 97th Maintenance Directorate survival equipment supervisor.

The system has been in place since December and the shop has yet to produce any hazardous waste, he said.

"We used to produce approximately 27,000 pounds of waste water a year," Mr. Corey said. "And now we're not going to produce any water -- it's all going to be self contained. We used to spend approximately $65,000 a year on getting rid of (the waste) and operating man-hours. Now we're probably going to spend $17,000 a year."
Before the system was installed, the wheel and tire shop produced between seven and 12 55-gallon barrels of hazardous waste every three months. Now, the shop expects to generate less than 10 pounds of waste for the entire year.

The former system required four people to clear the waste from the wheel wash, and now there's no longer a need to do that, Mr. Corey said.

"We used to spend hours at this machine trying to clean the (wheels), scrubbing all the time," said Kent Reitenour, configuration wheel and tire shop specialist. "This has cut it in half the time. (Now) you put (the wheel) in there, you give it a quick scrub, rinse it off and you're ready to go."

Even the price of the water cleaning system was sensible, Mr. Corey said.

"The new system cost approximately $120,000," he explained. "It'll pay for itself in two to three years. If just the small Altus Air Force Base can reduce the amount of waste from 27,000 pounds down to 10 pounds, then we've really made a big impact on the environment."

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