By Jim Melwert

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CBS) — Nearly 1,000 pounds of old ammunition was being destroyed today in Montgomery County, in a process being touted as environmentally safe.

Montgomery County sheriff Russell Bono says the ammo had been collected throughout the year in Montgomery and Chester counties.

 

(Some of the nearly half-ton of ammunition destined for recycling.  Photo by Jim Melwert)

(Some of the nearly half-ton of ammunition destined for recycling. Photo by Jim Melwert)

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“(In) individual homes, people who will find ammo in their garage and they just want to get rid of it,” he explains.  “And there’s really no safe way of doing it.  You can’t throw it in a river -– you shouldn’t -– and you can’t throw it in the trash.”

Enter the “Mobile Ammunition Combustion System” (MACS) burner.  TWB Designs president Tom Braithwaite, inventor of the device, says the system keeps lead and other pollution from getting into the air while collecting 97 percent of the recyclable materials.

“We’ve popped all the shell casings off, all the primers, and burnt the plastics from the shotgun shells,” he explained.  “Now all we’re doing is separating the metals — the lead from the brass.”

 

(After the plastic and lead are burned and melted away, brass shells are left for recycling.  Photo by Jim Melwert)

(After the plastic and lead are burned and melted away, brass shells are left for recycling. Photo by Jim Melwert)

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Braithwaite says each 100-pound batch, made up of half brass shells and half shotgun shells, will leave behind about 52 pounds of lead and 32 pounds of brass for recycling.

Sheriff Bono says if anyone has ammo they need to get rid of, they should contact their local police department.