lead-free 'green' bullets may not be so eco-friendly after all


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Drizzt
July 30, 2005, 03:42 AM
U.S. military: lead-free 'green' bullets may not be so eco-friendly after all
By JAY LINDSAY

BOURNE, Mass. (AP) - Army officials at a Massachusetts army base said they thought they were being eco-friendly when they started using "green bullets" that contain no lead - a move meant to prevent polluting an aquifer beneath Camp Edwards.

But six years later, after a million rounds have been fired at the base's shooting ranges, new information suggests the green bullets may not be much better for the environment than the lead ones.

"It's frustrating," Col. William FitzPatrick of the National Guard's Environmental Readiness Center said Thursday. "You're doing what you think are the right things. As science evolves, you wonder, 'Am I in front of the curve, or behind?' "

The green bullets are made of nylon and tungsten, a metal that supposedly does not seep into ground as quickly as lead. That's important because the aquifer below the base supplies upper Cape Cod with drinking water.

But conventional wisdom about tungsten has been challenged by tests done in recent years at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J.

Lab tests there found in 2002 that tungsten was not insoluble and it could travel through soil under certain conditions. It also found tungsten enables lead to move through the soil more quickly.

The army has now begun field tests on how tungsten moves through the ground.

Camp Edwards is part of the Massachusetts Military Reservation, which covers nearly 80 square kilometres. It's been a major training centre for decades.

The camp has had a history of environmental problems since it opened in 1911.

Jet fuel, solvents and other pollutants contaminated the aquifer and the groundwater is now under constant monitoring.

In 1997, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ordered target practice halted at the camp and ordered a clean-up of lead buried in and around the berms at the base shooting ranges.

Lead was later found six metres underground and moving toward the aquifer - though it never reached the water.

For now, the tungsten bullets are still officially considered safe by the Department of Defence, and they are still used at the base.

http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Science/2005/07/29/1152539-ap.html

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Crosshair
July 30, 2005, 07:17 AM
Take that Greenpeace. :evil:

hso
July 30, 2005, 08:24 AM
What the article does say is that tungsten" could travel through soil under certain conditions", but it doesn't say what conditions. What it doesn't point out is that Tungsten is essentially non-toxic with no OSHA exposure limit having been established and a NIOSH and ACGIH exposure limt based on it's dust's irritant factor when machined, ground or crushed instead of any significant toxicity.

While the article interests me enough to look into it. It certainly doesn't cause me to knee-jerk a reaction to ban "greeen" ammo.

Ohen Cepel
July 30, 2005, 08:54 AM
I'm worried about the whole situation in that I'm afraid we'll be prevented from using tungsten in the future and won't be able to go back to lead.

They could just keep finding issues with all the options and drive the cost of everything up to the point were civilains won't be able to afford to shoot or may not have a place to shoot. Also, the continued training cost for the military could become an issue.

My biggest worry with the tungsten is the recent research on it's cancer effect in mice. I don't currently see that as a huge issue. However, could see others grabbing onto it and twisting it.

I think we should have stuck with lead and took more precautions.

Mauserguy
July 30, 2005, 12:11 PM
Okay, I have a question. For pistols, why can't we just use plastic, maybe weighted with an internal core of ceramic or something. I know that it would be ballisticaly inferior to lead, and would not be suitable for defensive loads, but at the range that most people shoot pistols, would it really make much of a difference for simple paper punching? Of course, for rifle practice, it would not work, but why not for pistols.
Mauserguy

armoredman
July 30, 2005, 01:23 PM
Agh, guess it's paintball for military practice from now on.....

Tag
July 30, 2005, 09:48 PM
would it be so terribly difficult to line the underside of their backstops with... say concrete or something?

Standing Wolf
July 30, 2005, 09:52 PM
They could just keep finding issues with all the options and drive the cost of everything up to the point were civilains won't be able to afford to shoot or may not have a place to shoot.

Bingo! I'm sure that's a topic under hot discussion in leftist extremist circles. The issue won't be whether to ban lead in ammunition, but how, followed by banning tungsten in ammunition, copper in ammunition, and...

KriegHund
July 30, 2005, 10:15 PM
It also found tungsten enables lead to move through the soil more quickly.

How ironic.

MarkDido
July 30, 2005, 10:16 PM
"It's frustrating," Col. William FitzPatrick of the National Guard's Environmental Readiness Center said Thursday. "You're doing what you think are the right things. As science evolves, you wonder, 'Am I in front of the curve, or behind?' "

National Guard Environmental Readiness Center?? :banghead:

Doc
July 30, 2005, 11:20 PM
i thought the green bullets were copper and tin???
sinterfire (http://www.sinterfire.com/who.htm) website says

SinterFire designs and manufactures all of its components. We have complete control of all products and operations. We do not outsource. SinterFire has developed exclusive metal composite materials based on copper/tin with proprietary lubricants. A controlled amount of dry lubricant is retained at the bullet surface as well as being impregnated throughout the finished component.

Cesiumsponge
July 30, 2005, 11:24 PM
Is it the Army's own study that starts to contradict their earlier findings? If OSHA, NIOSH, and ACGIH don't have major issues with it, I think they're just trying to find something to complain about. Granted, the bigger issue might be that tungsten might as a catalyst that makes lead more readily absorbed into groundwater tables.

I guess we better ban all arms! It'll keep arms out of the hands of guerilla forces globally as well as keeping arms out of the hands of criminals on the streets nationally! More legislation, more legislation!

hso
July 30, 2005, 11:30 PM
The tungsten bullet is a polymer/tungsten powder composite.

This is a single study and as such has little scientific weight. Information about what conditions resulted in tungsten solubility in the field would be helpful to determine if these conditions can actually exist. Since that information isn't readily available with a search I'll wait to see what other studies come out.

K-Romulus
July 31, 2005, 11:56 AM
the DOD stuff uses one recipe, Sinterfire another recipe, and PMC Green (with Longbow branded "green" bullets) a third copper/polymer recipe . . . plus the Winchester?/Remington? "Disintegrator" probably has it's own formula as well. :confused:

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