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Team's Efforts Protect Soldiers, Environment

Counterfeit Refrigerant Impact Team members (from left):  Systems Integration and Engineering Executive Director Magid Athnasios, Jeffrey Marciniok, Gregory Gulawski, Jack Giannosa, Christopher Spangler, Andrew Schultz, Melissa McGowan, Thomas Neuhalfen, Terry Nelson, Richard Stanley, ILSC Deputy Executive Director Marion Whicker and Acting TARDEC Director Jennifer Hitchcock. The team developed identification and disposal procedures for vehicles and equipment containing potentially harmful refrigerants. (U.S. Army photo by Karen Nemeth.) Counterfeit Refrigerant Impact Team members (from left): Systems Integration and Engineering Executive Director Magid Athnasios, Jeffrey Marciniok, Gregory Gulawski, Jack Giannosa, Christopher Spangler, Andrew Schultz, Melissa McGowan, Thomas Neuhalfen, Terry Nelson, Richard Stanley, ILSC Deputy Executive Director Marion Whicker and Acting TARDEC Director Jennifer Hitchcock. The team developed identification and disposal procedures for vehicles and equipment containing potentially harmful refrigerants. (U.S. Army photo by Karen Nemeth.)

A couple of years ago, the heating, cooling and refrigeration industry discovered that a substance known as R40 in refrigerant products was contaminating previously reliable blends and posing the risk of explosions. The Army believed it had these counterfeit blends in many of its Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected (MRAP) vehicles and other military vehicles.

TARDEC formed a Counterfeit Refrigerant Impact Team to investigate how to keep the potentially dangerous counterfeit refrigerant blend from being used in Army vehicles and recommend actions to protect Soldiers and the environment. That group's efforts have now been recognized with the Secretary of the Army's Environmental Award and the Secretary of Defense's Award for Environmental Excellence in Weapon System Acquisition, Small Program (being presented in a July 10 presentation at the Pentagon).

The investigation found that mixtures of discontinued chemical compounds could be flammable, toxic if inhaled, and harmful to the environment. These chemicals damage vehicle air conditioning (A/C) system seals, causing the toxins to leak from vehicle systems or equipment, which can lead to system failures, costly repairs and a safety risk to Soldiers.

Katherine Hammack, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment, made the announcement May 28 from Washington, D.C., while the team gathered in Warren, MI, to receive their plaques. "TARDEC formed a team of professionals to address the problem and is taking action to ensure that Soldiers and our civilians are safe," Hammack explained.

As a direct result of the Impact Team's initiatives, they improved safety for Soldiers and vehicle maintenance personnel, and reduced harm to the environment, improving force readiness and lowering vehicle maintenance costs across the Department of Defense.

TARDEC engineers developed procedures to check A/C systems and refrigerant canisters for content purity. Teaming with Letterkenny and Red River Army Depot technicians, they evaluated military vehicles returning from overseas operations. When electronic testers indicated significant contaminant levels, confirmed by subsequent lab results, technicians posted Safety of Use messages on vehicles and recommended special handling procedures.

TARDEC is now transitioning electronic test kits for field use, disseminating procedural test information and instructing personnel on refrigerant tester use.

M-ATV photo on home page: (U.S. Army photo by SGT Robert Golden, 16th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.) VIRIN:130507-A-LH369-003

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