- Associated Press - Sunday, January 4, 2015

SPENCER, Ind. (AP) - The disabled High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles arrive three at a time on a flatbed semitrailer.

The U.S. Army vehicles date back to the 1980s and are no longer needed by the military, the detritus of far-off wars. They are stored around the country, and are now being shipped to special scrap yards in three locations: Talladega, Alabama; Red River, Texas; and Spencer, where vehicles are hauled in from 22 sites.

Since April, more than 1,100 early Humvees and aging armored Jeeps have been decommissioned at the old Rostone plastics plant on the eastern edge of Spencer. St. Louis resident Richard Treloar, who deals in scrap metal, secured a contract with the Defense Logistics Agency and bought the long-closed Rostone building as a base for the operation.

His contract calls for the decommissioning of 4,800 vehicles.

Business at Demil Indiana LLC has been brisk since the first vehicles arrived on April 3. The contract lasts another 18 months or so, which means thousands more unwanted military vehicles will end up in Spencer. The contract could be extended if all 4,800 have not been dealt with when it expires, The Herald-Times reported (https://bit.ly/1xHFOG2 ).

The decommissioned vehicles are drained of fluids upon arrival. Their wide, deep-tread tires are stacked outside. Workers remove glass, headlights and valuable metal parts. Then, the shells that remain are smashed flat.

The military vehicles leave the grounds as parts loaded high into semi-trucks, sometimes four a day, destined for recycling in Indianapolis. Treloar estimates that during the past eight months, about 15 million pounds of scrapped metal has been hauled from the site. He reimburses the government eight and a half cents per pound.

Last Wednesday morning, a bucket loader deposited heavy steel coil springs and twisted vehicle frames onto a 15-foot-high pile of recyclable steel parts at the Spencer business. Another tall metal pile contained hoods and metal grilles. Tires were stacked high outside the building. About 60 intact Humvees were parked against a fence abutting the Greenbriar Senior Apartments, some a sand-yellow shade and others green-and-gray camouflage, awaited the dismantling process. Vehicle shells are stacked, sometimes four high, against a building.

Nearby residents have complained about loud noises and semi traffic in the neighborhood. Police responded to a complaint about a semi parked in the road in October, and late the night of Dec. 11, a resident called police, upset about the beeping noise from a backhoe.

Tommy and Karen Winders have complained at town council meetings about the noise and unsightliness on the grounds surrounding the old plastics plant. Spencer Police Chief Richard Foutch has responded to multiple complaints at the Winders’ residence, reiterating that the business is in an industrial-zoned area and not breaking any laws.

Town council members say it’s not their job to oversee private business operations, unless there are violations of state or town ordinances.

The Winders also have consulted with the town attorney and called the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, which reported just one violation at Demil Indiana LLC - an oil spill over the summer. One day, a Humvee caught fire, prompting calls of concern about noxious fumes.

Spencer police officers also have responded to several property damage accidents at Ind. 46 and Fairview Street involving semis striking the same utility pole at the intersection as they turn off the highway. Truck drivers have been instructed to disregard their GPS directions and turn down a different street to avoid the pole.

Treloar said he understands residents’ concerns and has tried to address them. “It’s been silent out here for 10 years, and all of a sudden, there’s this noise and activity,” he said. “Most of the folks around here understand the nature of the business. Just two neighbors have done most of the complaining.”

He noted that the hiring of 20 local men to work at the plant contributes to the recovering economy.

DLA spokesman Ken MacNevin said most of the vehicles being dismantled and destroyed at Demil Indiana LLC date back to military operations in the Middle East during Operation Desert Storm. They have been stored at sites around the country and are just now being disposed of. Some more recent Humvees are being stripped of military equipment and then auctioned to the private sector. But the older vehicles of war, he said, are destined for scrapping.

“They often sit for quite some time until we have a place to send them for demilitarization,” he said

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Information from: The Herald Times, https://www.heraldtimesonline.com

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