Manufacturing Sustainability: Green Manufacturing News


USAF Recognized by EPA for Surface Pretreatment

posted by William R. Stott
Published: September 23, 2009

Robins Air Force Base (AFB) has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Design for the Environment(DfE) program. This honor is presented to individuals and groups who have made exceptional contributions to the protection of human health and the environment.

The base received this acknowledgement for its success in eliminating chromate conversion coatings (CCC) in the pre-treatment of C-5 and C-130 aircraft painting operations. Robins initiated the change to reduce highly soluble, carcinogenic concentrations of hexavalent chromium. As a result of these efforts, the U.S. Air Force is now closer to branch-wide elimination of CCC in pre-treatment.

"The purpose of the EPA recognition is to encourage the development of new technologies and best practices that will help the environment," said Stan Meiburg, EPA Acting Regional Administrator. "We commend Robins AFB for pushing forward changes that result in the responsible care for their surroundings."

The non-chromate technology, manufactured by Pantheon Enterprises and commercially sold under the brand name PreKote Surface Pretreatment, provides the base and other U.S. Air Force facilities with safer working environments and cost savings. For example, PreKote saves the government $12,000 when applied to each C-130 plane, achieving annual taxpayer savings of approximately $444,000. Additional Air Force facilities applying PreKote include bases in Utah, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Texas.

Hexavalent chromium is best known to the public as the toxic chemical that made Erin Brockovich a household name.

According to a 2009 memorandum from the Under Secretary of Defense, United States Department of Defense (DoD) agencies and defense contactors are being ordered to minimize the use of hexavalent chromium.

"Robins AFB is to be commended for facilitating this change long before this DoD memo was released," said Laura Roberts, CEO of Pantheon Enterprises. "We've found leaders within the Air Force who have become champions of environmental accountability by changing long-standing policies to enable the use of sustainable products, such as PreKote."

Pantheon's PreKote is currently flying on over 2,000 U.S. Air Force aircraft. Several commercial air carriers also use PreKote, including Delta Airlines, Continental Airlines, Southwest Airlines, UPS, American Eagle Airlines and Air Canada.