Funding for environmental cleanup at Army installations has remained flat or
increased slightly in the past three years, but the requirements continue to
increase, service officials said.
Besides the financial pressures, there are cultural barriers that have traditionally
kept environmental considerations on the sidelines, according to Army experts.
Environmental actions throughout the Army range from recycling oil in the motor
pool to designing composite materials for a helicopter fuselage, said Col. James
E. Dries, director of environmental programs in the office of the Army assistant
chief of staff for installations management.
"Trying to keep everyone current with what the rules and issues are and
trying to anticipate what the future will be [is challenging because of] ever
increasing requirements," said Driers in an interview.
The Army is building its environmental stewardship program on four pillars:
compliance, restoration, prevention, and conservation. The majority of funds
are being spent on compliance with $390 million budgeted for Fiscal Year 1999.
The top three clean-up projects are at Rocky Mountain Arsenal in Colorado; Aberdeen
Proving Ground, Maryland; and the Massachusetts Military Reservation, said Rick
Newsome, assistant for environmental restoration in the office of the deputy
assistant secretary of the Army for environment safety and occupational health.
The three locations account for $130 million a year, or one-third of the Army's
environmental clean-up efforts. More than 80 percent of those funds are spent
on contracts with outside firms.
The Rocky Mountain Arsenal clean-up is mature, with active remediation under
way and scheduled for completion in 2011 at a total cost of $1 billion, said
The Army is testing the program manager concept on site because of the size
and scope of the work. A private firm oversees the 30 individual projects that
make up the effort, while Army personnel select prime contractors for each job.
The Army may turn over management of larger projects to private companies if
the program is successful. Outsourcing the project is expected to save time
and money, officials said, primarily through revamped scheduling practices and
coordination of multiple contractors on site at the same time.
Aberdeen Proving Ground has an annual cleanup budget of $29 million. It is
smaller in size but demands a complex variety of work, said Newsome. It represents
a five-year effort in community partnering he described as a "lesson of
That is because, in the past, Army environmental remediation projects-including
evaluation, planning, and implementation-were completed without consulting the
community. The Army "told the community rather than sounding ideas off
of the public," said Newsome.
That philosophy is changing. The Army now consults with civilian regulators
and community leaders as part of the decision making process.
A similar plan is under way at the Army Corps of Engineers called "One
Door to the Corps," said Patricia A. Rivers, chief of its environmental
division for the military programs directorate. The intent is to make the Corps
of Engineers more responsive to customers and the public.
One of the recent successes was a signed agreement for the clean-up of the
Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant in New Brighton, Minnesota. After 12 years
of work, the Army has laid out a plan to deal with the plumes of groundwater
pollution, said Newsome. Although the pollution is not moving off base, federal,
state and local representatives were part of a three-year partnership and have
agreed to the plan.
Work should take about 10 years to complete and cost $300 million, said Newsome.
In Massachusetts, the Army and Air Force are teamed up to identify the environmental
hazards at the military reservation. "We haven't come to grips with the
problem there yet," said Newsome, who gave no timeline for the project.
The Army is spending $68 million on pollution prevention in order to limit contamination
in the future, said Richard L. Eicholtz, special assistant for pollution prevention
in the office of the assistant secretary of the Army for installations, logistics
He is working with acquisition program managers to include environmental considerations
in their plans. He intends to make projected environmental clean-up costs part
of the initial price estimates for a system's life cycle-from initial concept
to final disposal.
For example, if a cargo helicopter releases hazardous waste each time it is
in maintenance, program managers can find ways to extend the cycles between
Eicholtz's office is also trying to peg pollution to specific weapons systems
and the parts. The Army, for example, knows the type and amount of contaminants
produced at a tank refurbishing facility, but that information does not tie
the pollution to a specific part such as the Abrams turret or the Bradley gun
By knowing what parts create environmental hazards, Eicholtz said, the Army
can include clean-up costs as part of the life cycle price for a system and,
possibly, rework the design to minimize the contamination and clean-up expenses.
"It is better to spend a little more money upfront because then you don't
have to do the clean-up," said Eicholtz.
The Army is following this approach as it designs the next generation design
of weapons systems. Already engineers have eliminated the use of cadmium in
the M1-A1 Abrams tank, said Eicholtz. Cadmium is toxic in its pure form and
its use requires personnel to wear protective gear whenever maintenance work
Comanche helicopter program managers use economic analysis to tie environmental
factors to life cycle costs in the weapon system design, said Eicholtz. The
Crusader artillery system is also pursuing environmentally-friendly practices,
he added. Managers have designed their own environmental guide for the system.
Range 21, meanwhile, is an Army initiative to use training ranges without leaving
behind hazardous waste. This effort includes non-toxic bullets and green ammunition.
Green missiles are already being manufactured, though they have not been fielded.
The practice projectiles do not include lead and use a non-toxic primer as the
adhesive for the cartridge casing in place of the volatile organic compound
Type qualification of the green small arms round was scheduled for this year
but has been postponed because of budget cuts, said Eicholtz.
Unexploded ordnance (UXO) will potentially cost the federal government $1 trillion
to remove. It is both an environmental and a safety hazard. The Defense Department
has not released its cost projections for the UXO clean-up work needed at former
military sites, closed bases and transferred ranges.
Sophisticated ways to detect UXO have been developed but are not cost effective,
The removal of the ordnance, on the other hand, is one area where technological
progress is needed. The pick and shovel process used today is nearly identical
to that used during the Civil War, he pointed out.
The Army Corps of Engineers is now focused on cleaning up former defense sites
where the military has contributed to contamination but the government does
not own the property, said Rivers. The Spring Valley site in Washington, D.C.,
is one example. A recent sweep found possible unexploded ordnance buried in
what is now the backyard of the South Korean embassy. Old maps of the area indicate
the location may have been a military landfill site after World War I.
The Corps of Engineers spends $4 billion on environmental projects each year.
About 90 percent of those funds are outsourced to contractors, said Rivers.
Restoration efforts, budgeted with $377 million, are expected to continue in
1999 at both active and closing bases, said Dries.
With base realignment and closure efforts winding down, more resources are
being routed to clean up active bases.
Conservation of the Army's 25 million acres of land claimed $48 million in the
current budget. The work includes range maintenance where frequent pedestrian
traffic and motor vehicles have worn paths in the vegetation, leaving the area
open to erosion.
The bare spots are also making training areas less effective, said Eicholtz.
On small arms training ranges, for example, soldiers are actually able to predict
where targets will pop up because the grass has worn thin.