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Letterkenny recognized for environmental plan

May 26, 2010|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Letterkenny Army Depot received national recognition Wednesday from the Secretary of the Army's office for its plan to reduce waste and conserve both water and energy.

The Secretary's office recognizes an installation each year that is working to sustain both the Army's mission and the environment, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army Tad Davis IV said.

"This is our Super Bowl, our Olympic gold medal," Davis said of the award, known as the 2009 Secretary of the Army Environmental Award for Sustainability on an industrial installation

"This is not a small thing. It is huge," Davis said.

In 2008, Letterkenny Army Depot finalized a sustainability plan to guide the depot's environmental goals for the next 25 years, said Rod Gettig, director of public works.

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Depot Commander Col. Cheri A. Provancha credited the work of the public works department for drafting and implementing the plan.

"With great power, comes great responsibility," she said, quoting a line from the Spider-Man comic.

That phrase holds true for the depot as it embraces its mission, she said.

On the wall behind Provancha, the mission statement was displayed in red, white and blue: "Provide depot level maintenance, field support and program management to support a variety of systems and customers across the full spectrum of operations."

Sustainability requires meeting the needs of the present without compromising the future, Provancha said.

The three goals at the heart of the depot's plan -- water conservation, energy conservation and pollution reduction -- balance the mission of the depot with the future of the environment, she said.

The sustainability plan defines actions necessary to sustain its mission at current or expanded rates while safeguarding and enhancing the natural environment, Gettig wrote in a paper dated May 5.

The plan's objectives include becoming wholly dependent on sustainable energy for depot operations by 2033, diverting 100 percent of solid and hazardous waste from landfills and incinerators by 2033, and eliminating the need for a Title V Air Quality Permit by 2018, according to the paper.

The depot consumes 40 million gallons of water annually, Lindsay Washabaugh of the depot's public affairs office said.

The depot plans to reduce its water consumption by 50 percent by 2018, and by as much as 75 percent by 2033, according to the plan.

Likewise, it plans to reduce its electrical energy usage by 40 percent by 2015 and divert all of its waste away from the landfills and incinerators.

In 2009, the depot generated 9,450 tons of sold waste, of which 6,777 tons were recycled and 2,683 tons were sent to landfills, Washabaugh said.

Letterkenny consumes 50,000 mega-watt hours of electrical power each year, she said.

To reach its goal for renewable sources of energy, some of those sources already are being worked into daily operations.

Gettig said a $3.9 million geothermal project is beginning and the depot hopes to enter into either an energy savings performance contract or a utility energy savings contract to bring wind and/or methane gas into its portfolio.

The depot also operates five electric vehicles and hopes to one day add hydrogen vehicles to its fleet, Gettig said.

"Some of this will take time, and a lot of what we can do depends on money," he said.

In the meantime, the Secretary of the Army gave the installation the nod of approval for its efforts.

"I'm proud to be even a small part of it," Davis said.

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