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Cape Canaveral continues cleanup efforts

  • Published
Air Force officials have recently implemented changes to the force's environmental cleanup program to focus on cleaning up more sites more quickly.

The environmental management team here is using cutting-edge technologies and accelerated cleanup procedures to implement some of those changes and ensure its facilities remain available to support current and future missions.

"The Air Force is fully committed to the protection of human health and the environment at all of its facilities," said Terry A. Yonkers, the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Logistics.

Cape Canaveral AFS is a barrier island facility with an active, ongoing space mission. Located between the Atlantic Ocean and an ecologically diverse estuary system that is home for dozens of rare and threatened species, the facility also has numerous historic sites. These characteristics present unique challenges to the 45th Space Wing's environmental restoration program.

The ERP team is meeting these challenges using innovative, cutting-edge technologies, accelerated-cleanup procedures, and partnerships to reduce risk to human health and the environment, and to ensure the facility's unique natural assets remain available to support the current and future mission, officials said. The recent award of the 2011 Secretary of Defense Environmental Award for Installation Environmental Restoration to Cape Canaveral AFS demonstrates the dedication and effectiveness of the ERP team and its efforts.

Since the ERP was instituted here in 1984, the base ERP has identified 127 contaminated sites covering almost 2,400 acres and committed $175 million to investigating and cleaning them up, according to Regina Butler, the 45th SW restoration project manager.

Using a range of treatment techniques, 74 percent have reached site completion status and been returned for mission use without restrictions, with another 24 percent cleared for safe industrial use with some limited use controls, according to the Cape Canaveral AFS environmental management team. Final remedies have been initiated at two of the three remaining sites, and ERP personnel are working with the deactivation team at the final site, an active launch complex, to align cleanup efforts with mission needs for the launch pad's final launch. All sites are on track to have a remedy in place by 2012 according to Cape Canaveral AFS environmental reports.

The new Accelerated Site Completion policy, directed by Yonkers, was issued in early 2011 and shifts the emphasis from partial cleanup solutions that often require decades of expensive follow-up to complete cleanups that free up property for productive use more quickly through performance-based remediation, officials said.

"The standard cleanup practices take too long to reach only interim results, and they frequently cost the taxpayers a lot of money that would be better spent on actual cleanup," Yonkers said. "We want to conduct complete cleanups where it is technically feasible and cost effective, and free up these properties to productive private or military uses."

Unlike traditional contracting vehicles that focus on the process or technologies for remediation activities, performance based remediation contracts specify the desired outcome, allowing project managers the flexibility to take advantage of private sector innovation and creativity to drive timely results, officials said.

PBR contracts allow for fence-to-fence investigation and remediation and give the contractor flexibility in determining the best methods for treatment, said Col. Jeffrey Knippel, the chief of the AFCEE's Environmental Restoration Division, whose program managers oversee environmental restoration programs at all active Air Force installations.

"This often results in the use of innovative solutions and a reduction in overall program-management costs, while accelerating environmental remediation and site completion," Knippel said.

Yonkers set a goal for accelerated completion of 50 percent of all non-Base Realignment and Closure installation sites by the end of fiscal 2012 and 75 percent by the end of fiscal 2015, with 60 percent of not yet completed sites under a PBR contract by the end of fiscal 2012 and 90 percent by the end of fiscal 2015, officials said. Cape Canaveral AFS is scheduled to be under a PBR contract in the 2013 timeframe.

(Courtesy of AFCEE Public Affairs)