Category: Department of Defense

Toxic contamination on bases leave thousands of veterans reeling

Read the full story at MilitarySpot.

For years, the epidemic of toxic contamination at military bases & installations owned and/or used by the United States Armed Forces has resulted in poisoned the environment and placed military personnel and their families at risk for severe health problems. It is remarkable that contamination at military bases has become so widespread and dangerous that more than two-thirds of all Superfund sites designated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are military-affiliated.

The United States military is a massive enterprise tasked with the responsibility of operating industrial manufacturing and testing facilities for weapons, military vehicles, chemical warfare, and research; ship, vehicle, and aircraft manufacturing and repair facilities; training and maneuver bases; and other military-related products and services. These activities generate by-products and enormous amounts of hazardous waste that significantly harm both the environment and human health.

Department of Defense Climate Adaptation Plan

Download the document.

The Department of Defense (DOD) has identified climate change as a critical national security issue and threat multiplier (DOD 2014a) and top management challenge (DOD 2020a). Climate change will continue to amplify operational demands on the force, degrade installations and infrastructure, increase health risks to our service members, and could require modifications to existing and planned equipment. Extreme weather events are already costing the Department billions of dollars and are degrading mission capabilities. These effects and costs are likely to increase as climate change accelerates. Not adapting to climate change will be even more consequential with failure measured in terms of lost military capability, weakened alliances, enfeebled international stature, degraded infrastructure, and missed opportunities for technical innovation and economic growth.

The Department must take bold steps to accelerate adaptation to reduce the adverse impacts of climate change. These adaptation efforts must align with our strategic objectives and mission requirements, ensuring that our military can deter aggression and defend the nation under all conditions. DOD will build upon previous work (see inside back cover). Other DOD actions include scientific and engineering research to understand adaptation requirements, new policies and guidance, improved construction codes and standards, tools to assess and evaluate climate exposure at installations, and a requirement for comprehensive installation master planning.

How manufacturers can improve supply chain sustainability based on new DoD recommendations

Read the full story at National Law Review. See also the DoD fact sheet and full report.

As part of the Biden administration’s 100-day evaluation of U.S. supply chains, in June the Department of Defense (DoD) issued its review of certain “strategic and critical materials” that are key ingredients in electronics and green technologies. Supply chain resiliency is an increasingly important area of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) focus for companies and stakeholders alike, and the DoD’s review has implications for ESG reporting.

Watchdog: Lack of DOD action may have caused ‘preventable’ risks from ‘forever chemicals’

Read the full story at The Hill.

A report from an internal watchdog says that a lack of action from the Defense Department may have led to people being exposed to “preventable” risks from toxic chemicals. 

The department’s inspector general (IG) said in a report issued last week that in 2011, Defense officials issued an alert saying that firefighting foam that had a type of chemicals known as PFAS in it contained “chemicals that present human health and environmental risks and require special handling and disposal.”

Webinar: Advances in Understanding PFAS Ecological Risks

Apr 8, 2021, 11am CDT
Register here.

This SERDP and ESTCP webinar focuses on DoD-funded research to improve understanding of the ecological risks of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Specifically, investigators will discuss the pathways and rates of PFAS uptake, bioaccumulation, and biomagnification within freshwater food webs, and a tiered approach for assessing PFAS risk to threatened and endangered species.

DOD Announces Release of the DOD Regional Sea Level Database

The Department of Defense Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program and Environmental Security Technology Certification Program has announced the public release of the DOD Regional Sea Level database.  

Making the information available broadly “is a critical requirement for its use in our Unified Facilities Criteria program for planners and designers,” said Thadd Buzan, Assistant Director for Military Construction, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Sustainment). 

Public access to the database allows for the integration of future sea level change information by contracted third parties such as engineering firms in their efforts to provide installation and facilities planning and design services for coastal locations. The database and its accompanying report, Regional Sea Level Scenarios for Coastal Risk Management, were developed by the DOD-led Coastal Assessment Regional Scenario Working Group to provide a consistent, authoritative approach to account for changing sea levels at DOD sites worldwide.  

Use of DRSL information is now incorporated into the department’s installation master planning criteria and civil engineering design criteria for coastal locations. When using the DRSL database, planners and designers must apply the planning horizon and regional scenario appropriate to the installation requirement, and the vertical datum (such as the North American Vertical Datum of 1988) appropriate to the location.

For more information on the DOD program, visit the SERDP-ESTCP website.

JBLM environmental advisers support mission sustainability

Read the full story from the U.S. Army.

Joint Base Lewis-McChord has a strong sustainability and environmental compliance program. Multiple environmental advisers and other resources are available to help units and organizations comply with the various legal, regulatory and policy requirements needed for proper management of their environmental program — with an emphasis on preventing pollution.

A California water fight pits pistachio growers against the U.S. Navy

Read the full story from FERN’s Ag Insider.

A legal dispute over water rights in California’s Mojave desert has growers for The Wonderful Co. on one side and a town reliant on a sprawling naval base on the other. As Brent Crane reports in FERN’s latest story, published with Bloomberg Green, the case offers a glimpse of the coming water wars in California, as the state’s all-powerful agriculture interests increasingly square off against thirsty communities over a dwindling supply of fresh water.

Funding available for environmental and installation energy demonstrations

The ESTCP FY 2022 Solicitation was released January 7, 2021. Researchers from Federal organizations, universities, and private industry can apply for ESTCP funding. All proposals must respond to a Topic Area associated with the solicitation. ESTCP projects are formal demonstrations in which innovative technologies are rigorously evaluated. ESTCP demonstrations are conducted at DoD facilities and sites to document improved efficiency, reduced liability, improved environmental outcomes, and cost savings.

Topic areas for industry, academia, and state organizations include:

 Webinar

The ESTCP Director, Deputy Director, and Program Managers will conduct an online seminar ESTCP Funding Opportunities – FY 2022 on January 21, 2021. 

Climate Resilience: DOD Coordinates with Communities, but Needs to Assess the Performance of Related Grant Programs

Download the document.

What GAO Found

Department of Defense (DOD) domestic installations report extensive and varied use of community infrastructure and support services—such as roads, bridges, electricity, water, and medical facilities—that are vulnerable to disruptions from climate change and extreme weather. For example, 62 of the 63 installations (98 percent) that responded to GAO’s survey report relying on communities for electricity, access roads or bridges, and telecommunications.

DOD installations also report taking a range of actions to coordinate with organizations—including public utilities, county governments, and state agencies—to limit installation exposure to the effects of climate change and extreme weather.

Department of Defense's Climate Change and Extreme Weather Coordination Efforts with Communities
Department of Defense’s Climate Change and Extreme Weather Coordination Efforts with Communities

Note: CUP studies result in recommendations that address threats to installation readiness; MIR studies identify risks to infrastructure outside an installation; and DCIP provides construction funds to communities to address, among other things, deficiencies in community infrastructure that support military installation resilience.

DOD administers three grant programs that support community coordination with local installations on climate change and extreme weather—the longstanding Compatible Use Plan (CUP), and the Military Installation Resilience (MIR) and Defense Community Infrastructure Pilot (DCIP) programs established in fiscal year 2020. DOD and community officials emphasized the value of these grant programs as a means of facilitating and funding coordination with surrounding communities, including through joint land use studies and community infrastructure development. In fiscal year 2020, about $67 million was awarded under the three grant programs.

While DOD monitors the status of individual CUP grant expenditures and deliverables—and plans to similarly monitor its MIR and DCIP grants—it is unable to determine the effectiveness of the grant programs. Specifically, DOD has not developed performance measures to benchmark and to track overall program performance. Without establishing performance measures for these grant programs, DOD and Congress are limited in determining whether desired outcomes are being achieved and whether current and future investments in the grant programs are delivering their intended value.

Why GAO Did This Study

DOD manages a domestic real-estate portfolio with an estimated replacement value of nearly $930 billion. DOD has acknowledged climate change and extreme weather as threats to its installations, operations, and readiness; and has noted the importance of coordinating with state and local governments to improve climate change preparedness and resilience.

GAO was asked to review DOD’s efforts to coordinate with communities surrounding its installations to limit the exposure to climate change and extreme weather. This report assesses the extent to which DOD (1) reports using the physical infrastructure and support services of communities surrounding domestic installations, and the vulnerabilities to such infrastructure and services from climate change and extreme weather, and (2) coordinates with such communities to limit installation exposure to the effects of climate change and extreme weather, and is able to determine the effectiveness of related community coordination grants. GAO surveyed 65 domestic military installations, reviewed documents related to climate resilience, and interviewed DOD and community officials.

What GAO Recommends

GAO is making three recommendations related to developing performance measures for DOD’s community grant programs. DOD concurred with all three recommendations.

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