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Logistics center recognized for pollution-prevention excellence

By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. (Jan. 10, 2003) -- The Warner Robins Air Logistics Center is the recipient of the Gen. Thomas D. White Pollution Prevention for Team Excellence Award for fiscal 2002, Air Force officials announced recently.

The award is presented to installations with outstanding pollution-prevention programs. The WR-ALC team will be recognized with a trophy at a May 7 ceremony in Washington. This will be the fourth time in the past decade the Robins team has been recognized for pollution prevention.

One of the reasons for WR-ALC's selection was the base's reduction of methylene chloride, one of the chemicals on the Environmental Protection Agency's toxic release inventory. The installation's 15 percent reduction in use of the compound, used to remove paint from aircraft parts, is due in part to implementation of a new paint-

"One process we are using now is the FlashJet depainting system, a combination of a xenon flash lamp and carbon dioxide pellets," said Mary Kicklighter, chief of Robins' environmental quality division.

The system, she said, generates high-intensity energy from fluorescent bulbs to heat up the paint on aircraft parts. The energy turns the paint into ash, while the pellets clean the surface and keep it cool. Built into this robotic system is a high-powered vacuum to collect the ash and filter out any contaminants, exhausting only carbon dioxide and water.

Richard Slife, FlashJet project engineer, said the process is the safest way to remove paint and is environmentally friendly.

Another factor in the award was a reduction in Robins' solid waste stream. The base diverted nearly 2,300 tons of paper and cardboard waste from the local landfills through recycling programs. In addition, the base removed all yard and horse-stable waste from the solid waste stream and initiated a contract to use on-base compost to enhance base landscaping.

Robins will compete for Department of Defense-level recognition against winners of the other service's environmental awards.