WASHINGTON -- A senior DoD official thanked winners of the 2004 Secretary of Defense Environmental Awards at a Pentagon ceremony May 4 for their "dedication to a strong national defense" and "commitment to environmental excellence."
"Every day, the men and women involved in the defense environmental program undertake the enormous - and essential - challenge of managing the abundant natural and cultural resources entrusted to the department," said Michael W. Wynne, Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. "And you do so in a way that both supports our warfighters and protects public health and safety.
"You are proof that these two goals are not only mutually compatible," he continued, "but are also mutually vital to successfully accomplishing our mission."
Besides congratulating the winners, Wynne also thanked the judges on behalf of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. A panel of expert judges from government, the private sector and nongovernmental organizations selected the winners based on five categories: cultural resources management, environmental quality, environmental restoration, natural resources, conservation and pollution prevention.
Wynne said the department's environment program is based on a forward-looking commitment to sustain the training and testing capabilities the military needs for a strong national defense, while at the same time maintaining healthy ecosystems. He added that DoD's 2004 report to Congress "provides ample evidence" that the program is producing significant results.
"For example," Wynne said, "61 percent of all installations and properties contaminated in some way by past defense operations have undergone environmental restoration; 94 percent of DoD's permitted wastewater systems meet regulatory standards for discharge limits; and the department has increased its purchases of environmentally friendly 'green' products by 24 percent.
"The Department of Defense is proud of our record," the Undersecretary continued. "Furthermore, we are committed to pursuing a comprehensive, results-oriented environmental program that will continue this record of success well into the future."
In the category of Natural Resources Conservation, there were two winners. Fort Drum, N.Y., took the prize for its work in implementing an ecosystem approach to land management and establishing a wetland mitigation bank.
Lt. Col. Michael Tarpley of the Louisiana Army National Guard at Camp Beauregard, won for leading an exemplary cultural resources program across five National Guard installations and 80 armories, achieving 100 percent compliance.
For Pollution Prevention on a non-industrial installation, the award went to Navy Region Mid-Atlantic, Va., for its active pollution prevention program that has exceeded its hazardous waste goal for seven consecutive years, reduced waste shipped off site by more than 70 percent, and reduced energy consumption by one-quarter since 1985.
A second award for pollution prevention, on the individual/team level, went to the Pollution Prevention Team at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., for applying new technologies to processes that benefit both the environment and base missions, and for implementing an environmental management system that significantly decreased chemical use, sludge production and disposal costs.
For environmental quality, the awards went to the Naval Air Depot Cherry Point, N.C., and Misawa Air Base, Japan. Through timely and efficient environmental management practices at all levels, the Cherry Point depot reduced environmental risks, improved processes and enhanced the environment. Misawa distinguished itself through superior program management and by employing innovative and cost effective solutions to environmental challenges.
In the category of Cultural Resources Management, there was a tie between the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., and the 14th Airlift Wing, Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. Both received awards.
Parris Island took the prize for its exemplary commitment to cultural resources by balancing mission needs with the protection of natural resources. Hickam won the award for its innovative cultural resource management program that forged multiple interagency partnerships, contracts and agreements with state, federal and educational institutions.
The award for Environmental Restoration was also tied between Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., and Naval Facilities Engineer Command Pacific, Hawaii.
Keesler received the award for an accelerated restoration program that protected both the environment and human health. The base was one of the few in the Air Force to exceed defense environmental restoration program goals and the first facility in Mississippi to sign a land-use control assurance plan.
The Naval Facilities Engineer Command Pacific restored 86 sites with PCB-contaminated soil, addressing the problem comprehensively rather than site by site. They also used more efficient sampling techniques that saved time and money, and conducted tours of the site to keep the public informed of their progress.
In addition to the 10 winners, there were several runners-up in each category.
"The objective of sustainability clearly resonates with the civilians and military personnel we honor today," said Philip Grone, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Installations and Environment. "They are integral to making our environmental management program outcome-oriented and results-focused."
Grone said the department's objective is "to move beyond simply complying with environmental laws and regulations. We must sustain our land, sea, and air and space assets over the long term to achieve our defense mission."