MCAS Yuma received the Secretary of the Navyâ€™s 2011 Environmental Award in Recognition of Outstanding Achievement for Environmental Quality, Non-Industrial Installation, in Washington D.C., June 5.
The award was presented to Col. Robert Kuckuk, commanding officer of MCAS Yuma, and David Rodriguez, the environmental department director.
There are seven categories of awards the Secretary of the Navy annually presents which Marine Corps installations compete for. Short of the Secretary of Defense awards, which MCAS Yumaâ€™s environmental department won three years ago, this is one of the highest honors the environmental department can achieve.
â€œThis is very important to us,â€ said Rodriguez. â€œIt tells the entire Navy and Marine Corps we are doing the right thing. Itâ€™s a great honor for us, the commanding officer, and the whole air station.â€
The environmental department assists in making sure the air station is abiding by all federal and state environmental regulations.
It is environmentalâ€™s mission to provide the highest quality support and services to MCAS Yumaâ€™s tenant units so they will not be hindered in the completion of their missions.
â€œOn a daily basis, we strive for continual improvement in environmental management, pollution prevention and compliance,â€ stated Christian Kost, an environmental protection specialist. â€œWe handle the business end of the environmental management. While Marines are training and completing missions, we are handling that business end behind the scenes for them.â€
â€œWe try to be proactive,â€ added Rodriguez. â€œWe fix the problem now, so it doesnâ€™t become a problem later.â€
MCAS Yuma was selected for this award due to overall environmental and material management as well as three specific projects highlighted for the competition.
First is the energy recovery of waste from the agricultural lands MCAS Yuma owns south of the air station. An orchard was cleared from a tract of land and the resulting wood mulch was sent to a power production facility, where the 1,800 tons of material provided power for 7,400 homes for approximately a month.
Second is the revamping of aerosol can recycling procedures, which took the 90 existing waste streams for the handling of the cans and moved it to one for the whole air station, a massive reduction in logistical hassle. The cans are crushed in a special device run by environmental which collects emissions to protect the air and provides recyclable materials from the cans themselves.
Lastly, the recycling program, run by Installation and Logistics, has been greatly enhanced. As compared to previous years, MCAS Yuma now recycles 52.5 percent more material and makes 66.2 percent more money from recyclable materials.
Environmental is currently working every day to ensure the station is up to par, as well as to make sure all the new construction complies with regulations. MCAS Yuma remains one of the few Marine Corps installations which have not been fined due to environmental concerns.
The department is constantly looking for new ways to continue to impact the air station and to maintain the level of excellence which brought this award.
â€œThis is not just an achievement for the environmental department,â€ said Rodriguez. â€œThis is an achievement for the whole air station and all the Marines, sailors and civilians who helped us get to where we are. We could never have achieved this type of award without their help. They make us look good.â€