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Researchers Awarded for Grappling With DoD Environmental Issues

By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 30, 2004 – Some of the nation's top researchers were lauded today for their efforts in helping the Defense Department meet environmental challenges that impact military readiness.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Frank Morrison, of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, accepts one of six project-of-the-year awards from Brad Smith, executive director of the Strategic Environment Research Development Program, and Jeff Marqusee, director of the Environmental Security Technology Certification Program, during a symposium held by the two organizations starting Nov. 30 in Washington. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

The awards were handed out during the opening session of a three-day symposium sponsored by the Strategic Environment Research Development Program and the Environmental Security Technology Certification Program.

SERDP is DoD's corporate environmental research and development program that focuses on cleanup, compliance, conservation, pollution prevention and unexploded ordnance technologies. ESTCP, meanwhile, works to identify, demonstrate and test technologies that address the military's environmental requirements.

Both organizations are working in partnership with DoD to limit environmental challenges that limit use of military training and testing installations, as well as current and future liabilities.

Some of the goals of the two organizations are ensuring long-term use of training and testing ranges, improving detection and discrimination of unexploded ordnance, and accelerating cost-effective cleanup of contaminated defense sites.

The topics for discussion at today's opening session were how to deal with unexploded ordnances and urban encroachment on DoD training ranges.

Alex A. Beehler, assistant deputy undersecretary of Defense for Environment, Safety and Occupational Health, and one of the keynote speakers during the symposium, said he shares the concerns of lawmakers who say that problem of unexploded ordnance on federal land is an "incredible problem."

And while DoD is making "good attempts" to grapple with the problem, he said the department still has "a far way to go."

Beehler placed emphasis on the problem of unexploded ordnance by relating his own experience.

About 15 years ago unexploded ordnance was discovered in his Washington, D.C. City officials were ready to evacuate the entire neighborhood.

He said that while the evacuation never occurred, "the problem continues, and there are new discoveries made on a pretty regular basis." He said new items are still being found on the site, despite the Army Corps of Engineers spending $11 million to clean up the site.

The problem of such ordnance also creates a ripple effect, he said. "Not only is it what's in people's back yards, but the fact that relatively nearby is people's drinking water supply for the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia suburbs."

Beehler told the group that he encourages states to do more to help the military, by partnering with DoD to look at ways to deal with the unexploded ordnance issue and other problems like encroachment that also plague the department.

He said Congress has appropriated money for DoD and military installations to "proactively seek opportunities" with local entities, conservation groups and states to "operate, manage and own conservationally desirable lands," thus creating a "buffer zone" near military bases.

"I see this tying into a whole host of opportunities with better cooperation, helping the local governments in effective conservation that will undoubtedly spill over into the other areas of effective land management and how to deal with unexploded ordnance," Beehler said.

Such a balance between the military, the environment and conservationists would greatly please Marine Brig. Gen. Willie Williams, assistant deputy commandant for installation and logistics (facilities) for the Marine Corps.

Addressing the symposium, Williams said that to have an "effective force, the Corps must have an effective environmental program in order to ensure the ranges and space we need is there when we need it."

"We realize that without proper (environmental) management we would not have the ready force that we have today," he said.

Williams said that having training space readily available is a critical readiness enabler for the Marine Corps, though he admits the service does not possess the ranges needed to "fully rehearse" its operational plans.

He noted that during a recent training exercise, the 1st Marine Expeditionary Unit crossed the desert between California and Arizona partly on public roadways and used the Colorado River for river-crossing training.

Because of encroachment near bases, the Marine Corps must compete for air space from civilian aviation, sea space for recreational and commercial vehicles, and land space due to environmental zones, Williams said.

"This competition for space leads us to be constantly balancing our military land-use requirements with our environmental-stewardship responsibility," he said.

Meanwhile, Williams also noted that urban sprawl has become one of the Corps' greatest challenges. Development around bases has forced wildlife to seek habitat on military installation where they are protected.

Those receiving awards for helping DoD meet its environmental challenges were:

  • Alex Becker, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, for developing a multi-sensor system for the detection and characterization of unexploded ordnance.

  • John Veranath, University of Utah, for the development of a new computational and analytical tool for distinguishing local and regional sources for fugitive dust

  • John A. Gillies, Ph.D., Desert Research Institute, for his work in characterizing and quantifying fugitive dust emissions from Department of Defense sources, including unique military activities.

  • Frank E. Loeffler, Georgia Institute of Technology, for his project on aerobic and anaerobic transformation of cis-dichloroethene and vinyl chloride.

  • Glen Merfeld, GE Global Research, for developing low- temperature durable, corrosion-protection powder coatings for temperature- sensitive substrates.

  • Susan L. Ustin, University of California, Department of Land, Air, and Water Resources, for her work in mapping invasive species using imaging spectrometry
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Environmental Security Technology Certification Program

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