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Leftover Bomb Fragments And Shell Casings Make Marine Corps Millions In Profit

A recycling program established in 2000 is netting the Marine Corps millions of dollars.

The Qualified Recycling Program took in more than 5.6 million pounds of bomb fragments, target remnants and shell casings in 2014, left over from thousands of Marines training events at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms in California, reported Medill News Service.

In some cases, the items are much larger than spent shells. Jay Jones, a leader at the program, pointed out that the facility once made use of an aircraft that had crashed on site. Once the investigation wrapped up, employees dragged the aircraft in and recycled it.

“Someone’s probably driving around a car [made from] it now,” Jones told Medill News Service.

“Everything that’s been shot at, shot up, blown up, that’s what we recycle in here,” Jones added. “The Marines themselves bring it in, plus we have contractors that go in and they bring in the bigger pieces of gear. The blown up tanks, the airplane.”

In 2014 alone, this effort brought in $2.5 million dollars, half of which was funneled back in to upgrade the Marine Corps only self-sustaining recycling program in the country. Approximately $1.25 million went to the Marine Welfare Program at the base. Recycling is so lucrative that the base has to constantly keep on guard from scrappers who, despite the risk of injury from triggering explosions, illegally sneak onto the base in the middle of the night to steal parts, particularly high-value material like brass and copper. Scrappers then sell the parts to recycling outfits and can sometimes come away with a decent amount of money in hand.

Yet, the risk of death is not just an idle threat from base officials to keep scrappers at bay. At least two scrappers have already died after setting off explosives.

How the operation works is that expended ammunition is brought from shooting ranges to the sustainment branch, where workers sort the material and double-check to make sure nothing is still live. It’s a rare occurrence that live munitions make it through the pile, and as Norman Troy, an explosives specialist noted, when it does happen, a team is brought in to explode it safely in a controlled environment.

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