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[GreenYes] Green Bullet
U.S. Army Unveils 'Green' Ammo

WASHINGTON, May 3, 2001 – Sure, they’re designed to fly fast and kill
swiftly, but that doesn’t mean they have to cost a lot to produce or clean
up after. In a multimillion-dollar project, the Army has come up with a new
bullet said to be just as deadly as the old lead-based one but cleaner for
the Earth.

"We want to be good stewards of the environment," Army spokeswoman Karen
Baker said in wire reports.

The military says using "green ammunition" cuts soil contamination caused by
the millions of slugs fired year after year at its practice ranges. In the
new bullet, a less toxic tungsten composite replaces the lead.

It's just one of the Pentagon's efforts to keep troops trained for combat
while protecting the environment on military land. Critics say the armed
forces have a long way to go on that score.

In a program it says has cost about $12 million so far, the Army in 1994
started researching ways to make a more environmentally friendly 5.56mm
bullet. It's used in the M-16 rifle, a weapon issued to every Army infantry
soldier, and an estimated 200 million rounds are shot a year.

Researchers studied combinations of metal to design a slug that would
perform the same as the old one, have the same density, ballistic quality
and so on, said Michael Dette of the Army Environmental Center at Aberdeen
Proving Ground, Md.

They settled on a tungsten composite slug and kept the old copper casing to
produce a bullet Dette says actually turned out to be more accurate and
causes less barrel corrosion. Soldiers won't notice a difference, he said.

Lead-Free by 2005

The Army, which produces ammunition for all the services, started limited
use of the new version in 1999 and is producing 50 million rounds this year
for practice at a new range in Alaska and an old contaminated one in

Officials hope the switch to lead-free slugs will be complete in 2005.

The new bullets cost about 8 cents each compared with a half cent for the
old ones. Dette said they'll cost less in full production and when officials
consider the savings of millions of dollars that would otherwise go for
cleaning contaminated ranges.

The 5.56mm bullet accounts for half the small-caliber ammunition used
annually — troops shoot another 200 million rounds of 7.62mm and 9mm
bullets, not to mention mortars, artillery and other large ammunition.

Shawn Garvey
Wolaver's Organic Ales and Hard Ciders
206 Sacramento Street, Suite 214
Nevada City, CA 95959

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