Located in a heavily forested area with rugged hills, deep ravines and geologic features including caves, sinkholes and springs, Fort Leonard Wood has become a leading resource for U.S. Army training and home to the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence.
While focus on this critical training mission never wavers, the installation has also won praise for comprehensive, effective environmental management and stewardship. Fort Leonard Wood, a 62,000-acre site in rural Missouri, has not received any environmental enforcement actions in the last decade, a remarkable accomplishment given the comprehensive nature of services provided at the installation to 13,000 employees; 11,000 trainees; 10,800 family members; and 60,200 Military retirees.
As home to the Non-commissioned Officers’ Academy (the largest in the Army), the U.S. Army’s Engineer School, Military Police School and Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School, the installation provides 80,000 certifications and 245 training courses per year, as well as offerings in 26 occupational specialties.
One key to the unit’s environmental success is its conformance with ISO 14001, the international standard for environmental management. Added to that is their focus on exceptional environmental stewardship.
“Cost containment, risk management, innovation, continuous improvement, partnerships and outreach are critical to our success,” said Charlie Neel, chief of FLW’s environmental division. “Every day, FLW earns its designation as the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence by accomplishing an ever-growing training mission and exceeding environmental goals and objectives, while keeping costs and staffing requirements low.”
One notable example of innovation at FLW is the recent addition of a 2.5-megawatt combined heat and power unit, completed in 2021. The project uses produced heat that would go to waste, and instead uses it to create hot water that otherwise would require a fossil fuel boiler to produce. And the CHP unit will send 2.5 megawatts of electrical energy back to the local electric utility grid, reducing the installation’s usage and costs. A second CHP unit has been approved, to build on the success of the first project.
Another sign of success is FLW’s revamping of the above-ground storage tank inspection and repair process – an effort to prevent contamination before it happens in an area that can cause pollution problems. Since the inception of the new process, more than 200 service orders for repairs in the 165 tanks on the installation have been completed, helping to avoid future remediation. The hazardous waste program has also diverted approximately 1,100 gallons of hand soap and 55 gallons of hand sanitizer to a hazardous materials collection point – allowing use of the sanitizers instead of disposing of them.
The unit also aggressively pursues recycling and reuse programs. The electrical/computer waste recycling program, offered twice a year in conjunction with Earth Day and American Recycles Day, collected more than 38,000 pounds of privately-owned consumer electronics and small appliances in fiscal years 2020 and 2021. This effort prevents harmful substances such as mercury, lead, arsenic and cadmium from entering landfills.
On the reuse front, the recycling program also took more than 4,000 outdated Skill Level 1 Soldier Manuals and rather than grind them up for cardboard, donated them to Junior ROTC units throughout Missouri to fill a big gap in training material needs.