Teamwork expedites environmental restoration
May 31, 2012
When duty calls Immediate Ready Company Soldiers of Fort Stewart, GA's 3rd Infantry Division's can deploy from Hunter Army Airfield within 22 hours to any area of operation around the globe. The brigade combat team can do the same within 72 hours. Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield fused together is the Army's premier training and power projection platform on the Atlantic Coast and restoration challenges need careful handling to ensure they don't interfere with the capability for rapid and effective deployment.
The Secretary of the Army recently recognized FS/HAAF Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division's ability to leverage its diversely experienced personnel to successfully and efficiently assess and address complex environmental problems with the Environmental Award for Environmental Restoration - Installation.
"Because our Soldiers need to be ready at a moment's notice, we need to make sure the areas where they train also are readily available," said Tressa Rutland, FS/HAAF Prevention and Compliance Chief. "Our goal has been to work with regulators and the community to quickly identify and implement remediation solutions and prevent any interference with the training mission."
The FS/HAAF Environmental Division found one sure way of achieving their restoration goals was having everyone work as a team. They formed an alliance with the Environmental Protection Agency Region IV and the Georgia Environmental Protection Division through participation in quarterly Tier I and II meetings.
At Tier I meetings coordinated by GA EPD they were able to discuss changing technologies and possible implementation of expedited remedial activities on both Installations. These meetings are designed to determine which courses of actions are working and which actions may need optimization. Tier II meetings provide brief summaries of cleanup activities, as well as discussions of any particular impasses taking place on various Department of Defense installations. They also allow collaboration on solutions with representatives from the EPA, the Army and other services, the U.S. Army Environmental Command and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
"Being able to discuss items at these meetings that could have delayed remediation and get solutions during the planning stages has helped us complete our restoration efforts on schedule," Algeana Stevenson, Restoration Section Leader said.
The majority of the Installation Restoration Program's total 127 sites identified at FS/HAAF needed cleanup due to motor pool fueling operations. After intense scrutiny to accelerate investigations and implement corrective actions, the installation now has only 16 remaining sites. Of those, 11 are response complete and five have remedial actions in progress.
FS/HAAF also identified 11 transferred or transferrable ranges eligible as Military Munitions Response sites. Between 2007 and 2010, FS/HAAF performed site inspections to determine if they contained any munitions or explosive constituents of concern. The historical records review identified 516.5 acres requiring field sampling. After site inspection, only 111.5 acres were determined to require further investigation. This transferred 405 acres back to usable real property and reduced remediation from a projected $17 million to $4 million. Similar investigative actions in the cantonment area returned 2,614 acres to usable real property.
FS/HAAF's IRP has met the Defense Environmental Restoration Program requirement to ensure remedies are in place for medium-risk as of FY11 and low-risk sites will be implemented by the end of FY14.
Throughout all of these efforts the Environmental Division assures implementation of remediation alternatives cause minimal disruption to training and flight operations. Keeping these areas available for the Army mission is top priority. Restoration personnel work closely with Base Operations and Range Control to coordinate remediation actions in any areas that could impact the mission.
The FS/HAAF DPW Environmental Division also works closely with their DPW Base Master Planning Division assessing future construction projects to strategically plan and incorporate remediation projects that reduce impacts to future military construction projects.
"Knowing areas designated for construction in advance allows our staff to coordinate with contractors and avoid delays in current remedial actions or future military construction projects," Thomas Fry, FS/HAAF Environmental Division Chief said. "Having construction and remediation conducted congruently assures we will achieve both our restoration and training missions."
According to Fry, using innovative technology and serving as a test site for technology demonstrations also is reducing cleanup time at FS/HAAF and is leveraging limited resources. Techniques, piloted at petroleum-contaminated sites, rapidly decrease the overall area and concentration of contamination, and reduce restoration costs.
Using chemical oxidation for groundwater remediation is another relatively new technology being used at FS/HAAF cleanup sites. The process, which converts hazardous contaminants to non-hazardous or less toxic, is fast and economical. It generally does not require installation of a costly fixed-based remediation system and unlike biological treatments does not depend upon viable populations of micro-organisms but only on contact between the oxidant and intended contaminant.
"We're also using innovative technology to make the cleanup process more green." Ms. Stevenson said. "We've implemented a pilot-scale product recovery treatment system to take petroleum-impacted water used during remediation efforts through a process that allowed what would otherwise have required hazardous waste disposal to be re-categorized as non-hazardous."
FS/HAAF environmental restoration success is built on building relationships and working with stakeholders at all levels to best prioritize and plan its program, according to Fry,
"We are restoring and reclaiming Army training lands by continuing to set and follow realistic goals and objectives, encourage pollution prevention, perpetually seek efficient cleanup technologies, share lessons learned, and most importantly, perform risk-based cleanup efforts," Fry said. "Through these efforts we will do our part to support FA/HAAF's readiness mission."