A Slip of the Tungsten
Supposedly eco-safe ammo may actually contaminate soil
“Green bullets” created to be environmentally safe — though not safe, presumably, for their targets — may not be so eco after all. At Camp Edwards in Bourne, Mass., the U.S. Army switched from lead ordnance to ammo made of tungsten and nylon, aiming (ahem) not to contaminate the aquifer below. But six years and about a million rounds later, turns out the Army never actually studied the nylon-tungsten bullet combo. Data have emerged suggesting that tungsten — thought to be insoluble — can leach into soil in certain conditions, and can enable lead to move through soil more speedily. So now Camp Edwards is hosting the Army’s first-ever field tests of tungsten’s solubility. The base has a history of environmental problems: The aquifer that lies beneath it, which supplies drinking water to upper Cape Cod, has been contaminated in the past with jet fuel and other pollutants.