Environmental Management wins Secretary of Defense Pollution Prevention Award

  • Published
  • By Holly L. Birchfield
  • 78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Robins has proven it's a good caretaker of the environment.

Robins recently earned the fiscal 2007 Secretary of Defense Pollution Prevention Award in the Industrial Category, for its vast efforts in improving aircraft paint processes and implementing green procurement practices to protect the environment.

Dave Bury, pollution prevention program manager in the Environmental Quality Branch of the 78th Civil Engineer Group's Environmental Management Division, said the base is a proven DOD leader in pollution prevention.

"Robins' pollution prevention program aggressively targets both hazardous and non-hazardous waste reductions through material substitutions and process changes," he said. "The program's main focus is on reductions in hazardous materials, hazardous waste, air emissions, ozone depleting substances, and also solid waste."

Mr. Bury said the 402nd Maintenance Wing primarily focuses on process changes in material substitutions within its processes in its aircraft and commodities divisions.

Todd Lavender, an environmental engineer in the 402nd MXW's Environmental and Ergonomics Office who works directly with aircraft pollution prevention, said the maintenance wing's new approach to aircraft paint processes is bringing big savings.

"We've implemented an airless paint spray system," he said. "The airless paint spray system allows the painter to get more paint on the aircraft. The transfer efficiency is much higher than the normal gun that we had been using. Because we're using less paint, emissions are reduced."

Mr. Lavender said the new process is also a material savings for the 402nd MXW.

"Another system that we use is an alodine reduction process where we went from an automated spray system to a manual spray system and we had an 85 percent reduction in alodine usage," he said.

Mr. Lavender said the process improvement brought even more savings.

"We were able to go from 125 gallons per aircraft to 18 gallons per aircraft, which resulted in reduced personnel exposure," he said.

A new pre-coat treatment used in the aircraft paint process is helping paint stick to planes much better, while its green ingredients make it safer for the environment.

Ben Torrey, an environmental engineer in the 78th CEG, said Robins has been actively seeking ways to incorporate environmentally-sound methods in its contracted services and products.

"Part of the pollution prevention philosophy on Robins Air Force Base is to buy environmentally-preferable products, or green purchasing, and that's something that we've instituted at Robins starting in 2008," he said.

Mr. Torrey said the green procurement programs encourages purchasing of products made from recycled materials.

"We're just being proactive in buying materials that are environmentally-friendly, thus saving on the front end any environmental impacts that might happen on the back end. If you buy smart initially, there's less waste on the back end."

Mr. Bury and Mr. Torrey agreed that Robins leadership has had a hand in helping to garner its now seventh DOD-level award in pollution prevention.

Base representatives will accept the award June 4 at the Pentagon.