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Summits focus on partnerships, Air Force environmental restoration successes

Suzanne Bilbrey addresses the Air Force Central Regional Environmental Restoration Summit May 9 in Denver.

Suzanne Bilbrey addresses the Air Force Central Regional Environmental Restoration Summit May 9 in Denver. Attended by regulators from the Environmental Protection Agency’s central regions and 12 states, the summit clarified roles and responsibilities as regulators met with Air Force Civil Engineer Center leadership and discussed goals, challenges and successes. Bilbrey is the director of AFCEC’s Environmental Management Directorate. (U.S. Air Force photo/Charlotte Singleton)

Edwin Oshiba, Air Force Civil Engineer Center director, welcomes state and federal environmental regulators to the 2018 Air Force Central Region Environmental Restoration Summit in Denver May 9.

Edwin Oshiba, Air Force Civil Engineer Center director, welcomes state and federal environmental regulators to the 2018 Air Force Central Region Environmental Restoration Summit in Denver May 9. Regulators, AFCEC leadership and subject matter experts shared environmental challenges, goals and successes during the two-day summit. The group also identified additional partnering opportunities and learned more about the Air Force’s approach to addressing emerging contaminants. (U.S. Air Force photo/Shannon Carabajal)

Val de la Fuente, a branch chief with the Air Force Civil Engineer Center’s BRAC Program Management Division, addresses the Air Force Central Regional Environmental Restoration Summit May 10 in Denver.

Val de la Fuente, a branch chief with the Air Force Civil Engineer Center’s BRAC Program Management Division, addresses the Air Force Central Regional Environmental Restoration Summit May 10 in Denver. Regulators from the Environmental Protection Agency’s central regions and 12 states attended the summit to talk with AFCEC leadership about environmental restoration goals, challenges and successes. (U.S. Air Force photo/Charlotte Singleton)

DENVER – The Air Force Civil Engineer Center kicked off the first of three 2018 regional summits aimed at enhancing strong partnerships with regional, state and federal environmental regulators May 9 in Denver.

AFCEC began hosting environmental restoration summits in 2016. Improving communication and collaboration is a main objective of the meetings, said Edwin Oshiba, AFCEC director.

“None of us can do our job alone. The environmental business is one of the toughest technical, legislative, statutory, and regulatory environments to work in. To navigate all that – and to achieve our shared environmental restoration goals -- we all have to work together,” Oshiba said during the Air Force Central Region Environmental Restoration Summit.

AFCEC, headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, manages and executes the Air Force Environmental Program, with support teams across the U.S. The center innovatively cleans up contaminated soil, groundwater, and areas containing unexploded munitions creating usable land for military and surrounding communities.

These efforts are achieved through collaboration across state and federal agencies, explained Kim Fornof, summit program manager for the AFCEC Environmental Directorate’s Environmental Legislative and Regulatory Engagement Division.

“We’re more effective together,” she said.

Regulators, AFCEC leadership and subject matter experts shared environmental challenges, goals and successes during the two-day summit. The group also identified additional partnering opportunities and learned more about the Air Force’s approach to addressing emerging contaminants, including perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, or PFOS, and perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA.

Getting a chance to meet people in person and gaining insight into AFCEC organizational structure and processes was valuable to many attendees as well.

“Strong relationships are very important. It’s easier for people to reach agreements and resolve problems if they know who they are calling,” said Sandra Bourgeois, a remedial project manager with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 8.

Regulators from the EPA’s central regions and 12 states attended the summit.

“We truly appreciate this opportunity to get together and talk about these (environmental restoration) issues,” said Paul Leonard, director of the EPA’s Federal Facilities Restoration and Reuse Office.

“It’s important to maintain a dialogue and I want to thank the Air Force for pulling us all together.”

The Air Force Western Regional Environmental Summit is June 13 in San Diego; the Air Force Eastern Regional Environmental Summit is July 25-26 in Charleston, South Carolina.

To learn more about AFCEC’s environmental restoration efforts, visit www.afcec.af.mil.

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