Fort A.P. Hill streamlines return of land to beneficial use
May 15, 2012
Returning 100 acres to mission-related and recreational use in about half the time usually required for similar restoration projects was a milestone achievement for Fort A.P. Hill's Facility Lead Team.
FAPH was the first Department of Defense and only Army facility to participate in the Environmental Protection Agency's Facility Lead program, which is designed to streamline and expedite the corrective action process. The installation entered into a facility lead agreement with EPA Region III that allowed FAPH to take the lead on establishing corrective action schedules and activities and use more streamlined methods to investigate 26 sites on the installation, take appropriate actions, including implementation of a final site-wide remedy, and achieve both short-term and long-term objectives more quickly.
"Region III offered the Facility Lead program to a select few facilities by invitation only," said Terry Banks, chief, Environmental and Natural Resources Division, Directorate of Public Works. "Our team worked with EPA to develop an agreed-upon work plan and reporting templates, so we investigated and reported on all sites during a single phase of work. This increased efficiency and saved approximately $1.5 million compared to costs for usual Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Compliance site closeout and will save another $2 million over the next 10 years in long-term management."
The facility lead approach to environmental restoration used a streamlined, tiered-risk screening process to evaluate each of FAPH's sites to determine if there was a risk to human health or the environment. One benefit of this method was quick identification and elimination of sites not requiring further action. The remaining sites were subjected to supplementary screening to identify the need for additional risk assessment or actions. Following this process eliminated time-consuming and costly risk assessments for each site.
"We used the streamlined risk screening process exclusively at 25 of 26 sites and performed one baseline human health risk assessment for groundwater at the remaining site," said Sergio Sergi, chief, Compliance Branch, Environmental and Natural Resources Division, DPW. "As a result all nonlandfill sites can now be used for mission-related activities."
The facility lead approach supported FAPH's training mission by allowing 10 previously unused wash point facility sites to be used for bivouacking, parking and reverse osmosis drinking water purification training. It also helped identify the previously unknown limits of waste at old landfills, which allowed for optimal use of surrounding areas for training, including siting of a new forward operating training base and improved use of a former fire training area
The installation is a regional collective training center supporting active and Reserve Army components, joint force, interagency and federal and local law enforcement. It also is a regional hub for Army Special Forces training. With an annual throughput in excess of 90,000 personnel, FAPH offers 48,000 acres of maneuver training and a 28,000-acre live-fire range complex with training facilities accommodating combined arms live-fire exercises.
"It feels great to know the teams' successful completion of the Facility Lead program has benefited that installation," Banks said. "And being recognized by the Secretary of the Army -- we have received other recognition for this program, but this is the top environmental award in the Army -- it is a true honor."
The FAPH team looks forward to sharing lessons learned, strategies, methods and experiences with others in the Department of Defense.
"We've already shared the program's successful risk-based approach developed for the Facility Lead program to assess landfills and sites with waste in place with the Radford Army Ammunition Plant, Va.," Banks said. "This resulted in no further action decisions beyond institutional controls for a landfill site and no further action for four other sites with a cost savings of $1 million. We're also sharing our strategies with other restoration managers in the region and through Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Army Environmental Command, so they can be applied to other environmental restoration programs."