Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C. --
Every Day is Earth Day for the Environmental Affairs Department
Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point has been an enabler of a combat-ready, aerial striking force for almost 80 years. The materiel required to sustain mission readiness can be dangerous to the surrounding environment, especially with neighbors such as the Neuse River and the Croatan National Forest. The Environmental Affairs Department (EAD) thus has the mission to keep Cherry Point environmentally compliant.
“We have several permits with the state explaining conditions we have to meet to help minimize our environmental impact,” said Dale McFarland, a supervisory environmental engineer in the Environmental Compliance Division at the EAD.
The EAD makes frequent references to these permits, ensuring that Cherry Point is always within standards. The EAD tests the water quarterly to ensure it complies with governing regulations, releasing an annual Consumer Confidence Report and a report to the Environmental Protection Agency. In addition, the EAD has recently made changes to decrease the installations impact on air quality. In 2020, the installation transitioned from coal burning to a natural gas-burning plant.
“That dramatically cleaned up our air discharges by reducing the amount of small particulate matter released,” said Timothy Lawrence, an environmental engineer at the EAD.
The EAD continues to do research on materiel's that would be safe to use on aircraft but also safer for the ecosystem.
“If there are people who have ideas on products that they can substitute that might be less harmful products, we are always willing to explore that,” said McFarland.
While the waste treatment facilities are effective in keeping harmful materials out of the environment, the community also has a huge role to play in keeping Cherry Point environmentally friendly. This is why the EAD stresses the importance of getting educated on waste management.
“We try to educate everyone that the air station is an industrial complex,” said McFarland. “Just because you do something at home doesn’t mean you can do it here.”
The installation, a large quantity generator, generates a large amount of hazardous waste. The EAD tries to make it as easy as possible to dispose.
“We hold a Hazardous Waste Handler class monthly for sections that produce a large amount of hazardous waste. Every unit that produces hazardous waste is required federally to send people annually. We also hold a quarterly Environmental Coordinator class aimed at educating higher ranking Marines,” said Lawrence.
The environmental department stresses the importance of asking questions in order to ensure the safety of the installation.
“The biggest takeaway for individuals is to make sure that any of the waste materials they have is being properly managed,” said McFarland. “If there’s any question on how to do that, we’re here to help. It’s our job to help you find the right method of disposal.”
The ultimate goal is to ensure Cherry Point continues to be mission ready for many years to come.
“We’re doing our part to ensure future generations of Marines have the training, support and capabilities Air Station Cherry Point provides,” said McFarland.
For more information, visit cherrypoint.marines.mil/Staff/Environmental-Affairs.