Originally created 03/27/04

Post offers old materials



Fort Gordon wants to know if the public wants its dead wood.

The Army wants to start a program at the installation to deconstruct old wooden World War II-era buildings and recycle them, instead of sending them to the junkyard.

"It's a smart thing to do," said Steve Willard, the director of the post's Environmental and Natural Resource Management Office.

Some of the buildings are close to Gate 3 in the post's northwest corner, and many have been there since Camp Gordon was opened in the early 1940s.

"During World War II, they were built initially as temporary facilities to begin with," Mr. Willard said. "New construction has to be up to certain energy and environmental standards."

Some of the buildings are occupied, but Pat Arthur, a facility manager for the Directorate of Public Works, said activities in those buildings will be moved.

The old buildings can provide solid, old-growth pine that was harvested in the area more than 50 years ago by the Army for the post's construction, in addition to bricks and other building parts, Mr. Willard said.

The program has been done at other Army installations, including Fort Knox and Fort Campbell in Kentucky.

At Fort Knox, the experience has been positive, said Mike Carnes, Fort Knox's recycling program manager.

"It conserves natural resources and provides inexpensive building materials and new jobs," he said.

Mr. Carnes said a variety of individuals and groups have participated in disassembly projects at his installation and reused the materials, including camps for disadvantaged youth, Habitat for Humanity and commercial enterprises.

At Fort Knox, the installation auctions off the rights to disassemble the buildings and recycle the wood and other materials to individuals and groups, Mr. Carnes said. Bids have ranged from $25 to $5,000, he said.

The shape of the program at Fort Gordon at the moment is nebulous, Mr. Willard said. Officials aren't sure whether they will use the Fort Knox model or devise another system.

Mr. Willard also said they're not sure of the cost of the materials that will be sold. He said officials need to work out how the buildings will be disassembled - whether by the public coming onto the post, or Fort Gordon workers taking the buildings apart.

It might be a few months before disassembly of the old buildings can begin, Mr. Arthur said.

After the buildings are taken apart, many of the sites will be leveled off and allowed to return to their natural states, he said.

Environmental factors also must be solved before any project can be started, Mr. Willard said.

Some of the wood was painted with lead-based paint, and asbestos was used for fireproofing when the buildings were constructed, he said.

Also, he said some of the ballasts in certain lighting fixtures contain PCBs, chemicals that were banned in the 1970s because of their toxicity.

Asbestos will be removed by Fort Gordon before any deconstruction begins, Mr. Willard said, and other hazardous substances will be dealt with.

The project's possibilities have state officials excited.

Teresa Shifflet, with the Georgia Pollution Prevention Assistance Division, a nonregulatory division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, said her agency is working on the project because it wants to reduce the amount of building-material waste in the state's landfills.

Mr. Carnes said the deconstruction program at Fort Knox, which has been ongoing for at least seven years, allowed authorities to extend the usefulness of a landfill that was scheduled to close in two years.

Reach Jeremy Craig at (706) 823-3409 or jeremy.craig@augustachronicle.com.