Cross-Functional Team Unites for Military Project

The challenge

Several decades ago, when the Cold War seemed to be much more threatening to our survival than environmental damage ever could be, the U.S. military developed chemical agents and stored them in thousands of steel ton containers in various locations across America. The Cold War ended, environmental regulations tightened, and the military was left with these cylinders in storage, all containing hazardous residue requiring treatment and disposal in an environmentally compliant manner.

The project challenges are:

  • This particular project involved 4,000 ton containers housing mercury and arsenic contaminated solids.
  • The scope of the project included safely and cost-effectively cleaning the ton containers below OSHA recommended exposure limits for mercury to allow for the recycling of the steel and the proper disposal of metal-bearing residuals.

The solution

Faced with thousands of contaminated steel cylinders to handle, Veolia North America knew it would take a unified partnership to effectively manage the waste in an environmentally-friendly and compliant manner, with minimum interruption to the military base and the public.

The services included:

  • Veolia built a diverse team of experts from the industrial cleaning, electronics recycling and hazardous materials groups, who worked together to develop an innovative solution for dismantling these containers off-site and recycling the components.

Solution highlights include:

  • Comprehensive testing that included several cleaning and cutting methodologies, which were adjusted and refined with the first batch of 200 cylinders for maximum effectiveness.
  • Despite the presence of several contaminants in the residues, the electronics recycling team developed an innovative process to recover all elemental mercury from the waste.
  • ​Seamless collaboration by the three groups, leveraging Veolia’s unmatched and significant resources to complete the project in 24 months, far ahead of the military project manager’s anticipated initial expectations.

Benefits for our clients


  • Thanks to Veolia’s expansive service capabilities, deep analysis of the challenge and a truly innovative, sustainable solution, the 4,000 ton containers were transported, cleaned and dismantled, with the steel and mercury components recycled, in just 24 months.
  • Some key highlights include recycling over 3 million pounds of steel and several hundred pounds of mercury, versus landfilling these wastes.

Learn more about our solutions:

Water Solutions
Waste Solutions
Energy Solutions