BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) here is overseeing the final construction phase of a new waste management complex that will replace the existing waste disposal point in processing the base's waste.
This enduring waste management complex will house the first waste incinerators commissioned by USACE in Afghanistan, as well as facilities for processing recyclables.
"The incinerators will be the largest incinerators in Afghanistan constructed by USACE. They come from the United States and will be burning a larger capacity than what is here now. They will provide better fuel efficiency and a greater reduction in waste over time," said USACE Project Manager Christopher A. Miranda.
The incinerators have the capability to mix used oils and lubricants with military-grade diesel for fuel, providing a means for disposing of waste petroleum products on site. They burn at a higher temperature, which provides for 90 to 95 percent waste reduction. Most incinerators offer only 75 to 85 percent reduction in waste, said Miranda.
The incinerators will run 24 hours a day with two-man teams working in shifts.
Construction on the complex began in October 2012 and the final inspection will be in the upcoming weeks, said Construction Site Manager Medie Pour.
"There are a total of 13 buildings that will provide the community with better waste management capabilities," said Pour. "It is a state-of-the-art facility built not just for a year or two years, but a facility that will last for decades."
"The waste management complex will require approximately 100 personnel to run at capacity. Mostly they will be local Afghans," said Pour.
The complex features a sorting facility that will allow for the separation of recyclables from waste, replacing one of two current sorting areas. The new sorting facility will be enclosed to reduce trash getting picked up by the wind, resulting in a cleaner operation and keeping Afghan workers out of the sun and rain. The new facility has greater baling capacity so recyclables can be bundled for easier handling and removal.
Bagram compares to a small city and the waste stream provides much opportunity for recycling. The recycle rate average for 2014 year-to-date is 37.18 percent, which is higher than the average rate back in the United States, said Bagram Garrison Environmental Chief Melissa L. Markell.
"The facility expansion should help to further improve this rate. All recyclables are segregated during the sorting process. Hazardous materials are removed and sent to the Hazardous Waste Storage Yard for processing, recycling or treatment," said Markell. "All other materials that can be recycled locally are staged for removal, including various plastics and metals, scrap wood and cardboard. We are even starting to segregate food waste for composting."
The sorting process provides many opportunities for local economic advancement in addition to the 200 local Afghans employed directly in the process.
"Recyclable material goes back into the community for reuse, rather than taking up landfill space. The waste hauling contractor performs additional sorting of landfill-able materials after these wastes are removed, and puts organic materials into his composting efforts operated by disadvantaged Afghan women," said Markell. "Some of the plastic bottles removed from Bagram are made into watering cans and plant pots, and the compost is used for planting trees, shrubs and vegetables that are then sold by the Afghan women."
The complex will be turned over to Bagram Air Field garrison upon completion and become part of its operations and maintenance structure.