News: Marines strive for environmental excellence
Story by Pfc. Sullivan Laramie
Servicemembers with 2nd Marine Logistics Group kicked off a “go green” movement by placing recycling bins around their buildings here in November, but they didn’t stop there.
Approximately 50 Marines attended environmental awareness briefs with base specialists.
The briefs were for Marines who already had some environmental training, explained Gunnery Sgt. Ethan J. Mahoney, the environmental compliance coordinator with the unit. “The brief was based on why we do what we do, not how.”
Charity M. Rychak, an environmental restoration manager on base, explained some consequences of not properly disposing of waste such as expended ammunition and empty bleach bottles. Explosive hazards on base ranges and water contamination are possible health risks.
“You might think you can get away with throwing batteries away or dumping chemicals,” Rychak said. “Sometimes all it takes is one drop [of a chemical] to contaminate an area.”
In addition, wildlife is directly affected by dumping trash on the ground.
Craig E. Ten Brink, the threatened and endangered species program manager for Camp Lejeune, taught the Marines about wildlife safety awareness.
“A lot of these military installations date back at least to the 1940s, if not earlier, and have had a relatively low impact on the land,” said Ten Brink. “As a result, military installations have more endangered species per acre than the National Park Service or Forest Service.”
Populations of endangered species are high on Camp Lejeune because Marines have been taking care of the environment and military bases do not expand much, added Ten Brink.
The speakers also discussed what to do if Marines find hazardous materials.
“It’s really important to properly dispose of things and properly document them,” Rychak said. She instructed the Marines to contact the proper base authorities such as [explosive ordnance disposal technicians] or a hazardous materials team if they encounter dangerous waste, which they cannot go near themselves.
The unit started its green movement with the different colored bins to help coordinate what items should be recycled together, but servicemembers have to be vigilant. Bottles and cans cannot be recycled with cardboard, and mixed materials have to be thrown away.
“I’d like this to get around the base,” said Mahoney, “We want everyone to do their part and help the environment.”
Marines can be environmentalists, too, added Mahoney. If Camp Lejeune gets healthier, the Marines have been doing their jobs.