News: New waste disposal yard, era opens on KAF
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Erick Studenicka
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – With a flick of his wrist, the commanding general of Kandahar Airfield ignited a new era of environmentally-conscious waste disposal on the airfield on Oct. 5. Brig. Gen. Scott Dennis had the honor of opening the new Deep South Waste Yard in a unique manner – by turning on the yard’s incinerators.
The incinerators will drastically reduce the amount of particulate emissions created during the waste disposal process on KAF. The open burn box method of processing refuse – and its resulting black plumes of smoke – is now history on KAF. The new incinerators meet all European Union emission standards, among the strictest in the world.
“The air quality on the airfield will be significantly improved,” said Dennis, who has been the airfield’s commanding general since November 2011. “The new waste yard signals NATO’s commitment to Afghanistan to reduce its enduring footprint in this country.”
The aptly-named state-of-the-art waste yard, managed by ATCO Frontec, is located on a 10-acre parcel in the Deep South sector of the airfield.
According to waste yard manager Martyn Jones, the yard’s four primary general waste incinerators and one medical waste incinerator are capable of burning 100 tons of rubbish per day. KAF already produces about 100 tons of garbage per day, but Jones said a large percentage of the trash will be recycled.
“All of the waste wood that used to fuel the burn boxes at the former waste yard will now be recycled and re-used locally,” Jones said.
Other recyclables include plastic bottles, aluminum cans and cardboard.
After the rubbish arrives at the waste yard, it is sorted for recyclables. Once sorted, the trash is scooped into the diesel-fueled incinerators that burn up to 1,150 degrees Fahrenheit. The super-heated material is subsequently reduced to ash and the gas emission is cooled.
Jones said it would take some time to break in the incinerators and residents may see some smoke emanating from the yard for a few weeks. He estimated by the end of November, visible particulate emissions from the yard would be nearly eliminated.
Jones said the yard was envisioned about three years ago and the land for the project was acquired in December 2011. He did not know how much the new waste yard cost the NATO stakeholders to build.
“We continue to try to make this airfield better,” Dennis said. “I am lucky to be the commander at the time when the project came to its conclusion. A lot of previous commanders and officials worked hard on behalf of this project.”
In addition to being environmentally sound, the Deep South Waste Yard is an economic boon to the region. The facility will employ about 130 employees, including dozens of Afghans.
KAF’s hazardous material disposal site remains at its current location in the southeast corner of the airfield.
Jones said KAF residents should continue to use local trash bins and there is no need to transport personal garbage to the waste yard.