DOD Announces Winners of 2023 Secretary of Defense Environmental Awards

U.S. Department of Defense

Today, the Department of Defense announced the Secretary of Defense Environmental Awards winners for 2023.

The awards recognize installations, teams, and individuals for their accomplishments in innovative and cost-effective environmental management strategies supporting mission readiness.

"Through its strong environmental programs, the department ensures the accessibility and long-term viability of its ranges and installations while safeguarding service members, their families, and neighboring communities in the U.S. and overseas," said Brendan Owens, assistant secretary of defense for energy, installations, and environment.

Each year since 1962, the Secretary of Defense Environmental Awards have honored service members and civilians across DOD. The nominees' achievements include significant strides to conserve our nation's natural and cultural resources; protect human health; prevent or eliminate pollution at the source; clean up hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants, and munitions on DOD sites; and incorporate environmental requirements into weapon systems acquisition. DOD also leverages technology to develop innovative solutions to address existing and emerging human health and environmental challenges.

A diverse panel of 54 judges from federal and state agencies, academia, and the private sector evaluated nominations from DOD Components to determine the winners.

In 2023, DOD selected the following nine winners from a total of 26 nominees:

Natural Resources Conservation, Large Installation: Camp Ripley, Minnesota Army National Guard — Repaired more than 500 acres of maneuver damage in the past two years and maintained more than 1,000 acres of grasslands used for military training. This work was conducted with the seed collected on the installation.

Environmental Quality, Industrial Installation: Marine Corps Support Facility Blount Island, Florida — Collaborated with the base operating contractor to improve off-spec JP-5 management. Under new procedures, JP-5 recycled on site has been determined not to be a waste stream, streamlining handling and management requirements. Process improvements saved $117,000 in fiscal year 2022, an increased annual savings of $45,000 over FY21.

Environmental Quality, Overseas Installation: Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea — Published a Hazardous Materials Management Program and Hazard Communication Execute Order that directed a full review of all hazardous materials, hazardous material-using processes, and all HAZCOM programs. As a result, Osan Air Base accounted for 100% of all 6,000 hazardous materials and disposed of 40,000 pounds of expired or unnecessary hazardous materials.

Sustainability, Non-Industrial Installation: Kadena Air Base, Japan — Contracted a private energy company to implement a four-part Energy Savings Performance Contract to boost the installation's mission-critical energy resiliency. This project will generate more than $153 million in guaranteed cost savings over the performance period. The keystone of the $85.7 million project is a new generator and microgrid utility system, enabling the Air Base to sustain operations and meet critical mission requirements effectively during utility disruptions.

Sustainability, Individual/Team: 366th Environmental Management Team, Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho — Overcame immediate water challenges derived from a rapid decline in its regional aquifer by employing mitigation measures including utilizing 89 million gallons of reused water from the base wastewater treatment plant for irrigation use and aquifer recharge. The base also secured a 14-mile water pipeline project that will further reduce aquifer withdrawal.

Environmental Restoration, Installation: Naval Base Point Loma, California — Completed corrective action at underground storage tank 105, where there was a release from a former 7,500-gallon diesel fuel UST near San Diego Bay, ending ongoing investigations since 1995. The corrective action consisted of injecting micron-scale activated carbon into saturated soil to serve as a permeable barrier to protect ecological receptors from petroleum migrating toward the bay.

Cultural Resources Management, Small Installation: Iowa Army National Guard —Restored Camp Dodge's Works Progress Administration-built limestone perimeter fence and gatehouse. Camp Dodge's Cultural Resources Management program reused stone from the existing fence to rebuild damaged stone pillars; mixed new grout to have the same look as the original materials; and replaced fence light fixtures with historic-looking fixtures that imitated the appearance of gas lights.

Cultural Resources Management, Individual/Team: Cultural Resources Office Team, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida — Improved Eglin Gulf Test and Training Range mission readiness by establishing partnerships, consultation parameters, and standard operating procedures to assess effects on cultural resources and ensure National Historic Preservation Act compliance. The SOPs saved an estimated $40 million expenditure during an EGTTR fiber-optic cable project.

Environmental Excellence in Weapon Systems Acquisition, Individual/Team: Acquisition and Logistics-Heavy Metals Working Group, Washington, DC — Promulgated a new Army Acquisition Executive policy, Elimination of Hexavalent Chromium in Army Acquisition and Sustainment, to reduce and/or eliminate the use of hexavalent chromium in weapon systems and maintenance processes.

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