Protecting and preserving our nation's resources

  • Published
  • By Col. Brian Yolitz
  • 1st Mission Support Group commander
Years ago, we didn't fully understand the impacts and dangers of our actions; we rode around in cars without seatbelts, smoking was considered acceptable, and we utilized business and manufacturing practices with the technology of the time.

Over time, we've learned these behaviors can be harmful -- even fatal. In the military, seatbelts are now mandatory, smoking has been eliminated from all workplaces, and we've changed our processes to minimize the impact on our people and the environment.

We've also recognized to need to clean up after our past practices.

At Langley, we believe our resources -- both human and natural -- are vital to protecting our nation and our freedom. As a result, we have a number of ongoing initiatives to restore and preserve our resources.

Here at the 1st Fighter Wing, we work to restore the environment through Langley's Environmental Restoration Program. Since 1981, the ERP has strived to protect and enhance human health and restore the environment while supporting the mission needs of the base.

Currently, the base manages 55 sites under the ERP where we've found damage or potential hazards to the environment. Langley has already provided remedies for the majority of its sites, converting several previous off-limit sites to usable land -- land that now houses some of the base's most popular and mission-essential facilities, including the Shellbank Fitness Center's running track, base operations, and Langley's recently completed mini-mall. In addition, the new visitors' quarters and Marina Café are also under construction on previously unusable land.

These accomplishments and many others led to Langley's ERP being recognized as Air Combat Command's 2006 Outstanding Installation Restoration Program, setting the 1st FW apart from the other 17 bases in the command.

In addition to command recognition, Langley has also been recognized within the local community for its environmental excellence. Named a "Pollution Prevention Partner" by the Hampton Roads Sanitation District in 2005 and 2006, Langley also received HRSD's highest award, the Gold Award, for 2005 and 2006.

Langley's ERP continues its aggressive site cleanup; only six sites requiring remedies remain. Three sites are already in the cleanup phase, with two of the three scheduled for remedies in place by early 2008. The remaining three sites without remedies in place are currently in the study phase, which involves assessing associated risks and determining the most appropriate action, given the available technology, for clean up.

To date, Langley has put more than $74 million towards ERP efforts. With the help of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Langley continues to aggressively attack the six remaining sites.

Langley plans to have all cleanup remedies in place by September 2008, achieving a major milestone toward removing the base from the National Priority List and Superfund program. 

Today, and into the future, Langley will continue striving to provide and promote a safe environment on and around the base.