Facilities of the year

Environmental Protection salutes five outstanding facilities that represent a new progressive attitude in dealing with environmental issues. Our top picks prove that a forward thinking approach, industrial development and growing profit margins can be balanced with a cleaner environment. As more facilities follow the examples set by our award winners, the trend toward smarter ways of handling air emissions, hazardous and solid waste and wastewater should produce positive, long-lasting results for the environment.

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics -- Ft. Worth, Texas

F-16 assembly plant,
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics
Fort Worth, Texas

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics (LM-Aero) has a long-standing commitment to protect the environment from hazards inherent with the company's activities. Recognizing that good environmental management makes good business sense, LM Aero has integrated ISO 14001 into its overall business processes and systems so that environmental considerations are a routine factor in business decisions.

Environmental management has evolved and expanded to address all aspects of solid and hazardous waste management, pollution prevention and employee awareness and education. A hazardous material management program (HMMP) integrates and coordinates all hazardous material management activities for the facility.

The HMMP has a goal oriented approach to environmental management, using both strategic long-range goals and annual goals. An overall "zero discharge" goal addresses every major environmental area, including hazardous waste, nonhazardous waste, wastewater, air emissions and underground storage tanks. To achieve these goals, the company has implemented more than 90 pollution prevention projects to date.


As a charter member of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Industrial Toxics Program, the facility reduced targeted emissions by 99 percent from the 1988 baseline by the end of 1995, exceeding the 50 percent reduction required. Additional reductions were made possible by a facility-wide commitment to reducing waste and lowering the plant's environmental impact. Examples of these include a 97 percent reduction in volatile organic compounds (VOC) air emissions since 1986, a 99 percent reduction in effluent heavy metal discharges since 1987 and a 96 percent reduction in overall manifested waste since 1984. As a result of its waste minimization programs, the Lockheed Martin facility has saved more than $41 million dollars in disposal fees since 1987.

This facility has also received numerous environmental excellence awards. In 2000, it received the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission Mickey Leland Environmental Internship Program Five Year Partnership Award. In 1999, it received the Fort Worth Water Department's Pollution Prevention Award and its Pretreatment Partnership Award. In 1998, the facility won EPA's Stratospheric Ozone Protection Award, the Water Environment Federation's Industrial Water Quality Achievement Award and the League of Women Voters in Texas Excellence in Environmental Awareness Award.

Westvaco Corporation Fine Papers Division -- Tyrone, Pa.

Photo © courtesy of Westvaco Corporation

In response to demand from various corporations and government agencies for recycled paper that exhibits good printing qualities compared to fine papers made from virgin fibers, Westvaco Corporation built a secondary fiber system at its Tyrone, Pa. facility in 1991. Its paper has been used to produce well-known national publications such as Sports Illustrated, National Geographic and Time-Life books.

As part of its process, the facility recycles waste papers to obtain their recycled fiber content. Some of these materials would otherwise be disposed in a landfill. In 1999, 49,943 tons of paper waste were beneficially used as a raw material by the mill. Throug another phase of the process, approximately100,000 gallons of water a day are recycled to the pulping process from the production process. In the past, the water had been discharged to the mill's wastewater treatment plant.

The installation of the secondary fiber system at the mill created some new problems. The system with new cleaning processes increased paper making wastes (sludge) from 20 tons per day to 45 tons per day. It also generated a new low-density polyethylene (LDPE) plastic waste. To deal with these challenges, Westvaco chose to recycle these wastes, with coal, to produce a homogenous fuel it labeled environmental fuel (E-fuel). E-fuel was then used as the mill's primary fuel for the production of on-site steam and electricity. Westvaco entered into an agreement with CQ Inc. to design, build and operate an E-fuel production facility (pelletizing plant) on-site at the mill.

In 1999, the pelletizing plant produced 69,943 tons of pellets. To produce the pellets, 17,819 tons of paper making sludge, 1,222 tons of LDPE plastic and 50,590 tons of coal were used as raw materials. Burning pellets instead of coal greatly reduced the amount of the mill's air emissions. The Westvaco mill employees' recycling efforts saved the facility $1,900,000 in 1999.

The mill's E-fuel project has been recognized three different times for its achievements. In 1996, the American Forest and Paper Association awarded the facility its National and Environmental and Energy Achievement Award in the Solid Waste Category. In 1997, the project was a finalist in the three Rivers Environmental Awards. In 1999, the project won the Pennsylvania Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence in the Technology Innovation Category.

Nova Chemicals -- Chesapeake, Va.

Photo © by Jed Buckson Design

Nova Chemicals (USA), Inc., a manufacturer of polystyrene resin, takes an active interest in protecting Virginia's environment.

A member of the American Chemistry Council (formerly the Chemical Manufacturer's Association), the facility operates under the Responsible Care® program. To guarantee the containment of all emergency releases of styrene vapor from its production processes during any upset condition, the facility conceived, designed and installed a $3 million system of pipes and tanks in 996. This system is estimated to have prevented the release of 2,300 pounds of uncontrolled styrene releases per year since its startup -- which amounts to a 100 percent reduction of such emergency releases.

Other measures implemented include: the installation of a $2 million system that captures and burns 86 percent of the facility's styrene emissions; reduction of hazardous waste by 99 percent by selling a major waste stream; by reduced frequency; and quantity of sampling by eliminating solvent-based analytical methods; and by switching cleaning solvents. The facility also has 30 recycling/reuse programs in operation, including items such as eyeglasses, batteries, used equipment and used supplies.

The facility is particularly proud of its efforts to promote wildlife conservation. The facility has set aside 11 acres of its 60-acre site for a wildlife habitat. This formerly mowed area was planted with over 3,000 native occurring trees and fruit bearing shrubs for the benefit of migrating eastern songbirds.

The facility has been honored several times for its environmental efforts. In 2000, it received the Chesapeake Environmental Improvement Council Business and Industry Award and the Hampton Roads Sanitation District's Silver Pretreatment Excellence Award. In 1998 and 1999, the Elizabeth River awarded the facility its River Star Recognition for pollution prevention efforts and wildlife enhancements. In 1998, the plant was awarded first place in the Commonwealth of Virginia's Governor's Excellence Award for Manufacturers.

USGen New England Inc. Hydroelectric Generating Plants -- New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Vermont


Photo © courtesy of USGen New England, Inc.

USGen New England, Inc. (part of the PG&E National Energy Group) owns and operates a system of 15 hydroelectric generating facilities located in the New England region. All of the facilities are actively implementing pollution prevention and waste minimization programs.

One of the facilities' most successful environmental initiatives is a multi-year capital improvement and toxics use reduction program that eliminated 15,000 gallons of oil used on-site, reduced oily wastes from equipment maintenance, reduced hazardous wastes generated by 50 percent and eliminated the use of solvents and creosote products. Another innovation at many of these facilities is the replacement of petroleum oils used in environmentally sensitive locations (over water) with vegetable-based oils and replacement of greased bushings with greaseless bushings in environmentally sensitive areas. Additionally, implementation of "Green Systems" procedures as part of the facilities' environmental management systems ensures that operations and maintenance tasks are performed in an environmentally safe manner.

Many of these power plants have been recognized for achievements in stewardship. The facilities' land conservation efforts include having placed a conservation easement over 18,000 acres of land to date with another 11,000 acres planned for protection by 2002; as well as expansion of existing public recreation facilities on project lands. Many of the facililties are also instituting minimum flows and regulating river flows and reservoir levels to protect Atlantic salmon and smallmouth bass, brook trout, and loons and other waterfowl. In a futher attempt to protect wildlife, several of these facilities are installing upstream and downstream fish passage facilities to encourage migration of Atlantic salmon and shad.

Ascutney Mountain Audubon Society dedicated PG&E National Energy Group's Herricks Cove recreation area in Vermont as an important birding area (IBA), -- a national designation. The Audubon Society generally only dedicates wilderness areas under this program. However, the Bellows Falls Hydro facility just downstream has served to enhance the natural habitat for more than 200 species of birds which have been identified in the area and through these efforts has made it an important area for observing a wide variety of birds.

Mountain Home Air Force Base -- Idaho

Photo © courtesy of Mountain Home AFB

Mountain Home Air Force Base is committed to preserving and protecting its natural and cultural resources. Water conservation, toxic materials reduction and pollution prevention are three aspects of its environmental program that have been widely recognized.

The base wastewater treatment plant is a state of the art facility that uses biological and chemical processes to clean wastewater and release treated effluent back into the environment. The plant performs these functions independent of any outside water sources. Potable water is provided by five government owned wells located on the air base. The base uses elevated, ground and underground storage tanks, allowing for approximately 1,950,000 gallons of storage. Base housing has replaced conventional indoor plumbing fixtures with water conservation devices and housing residents are on a strict yard-watering schedule.

The Aerospace Ground Equipment (AGE) facility uses a high-pressure aqua blast system to remove paint from equipment and a water recovery system is in place to prevent waste paint from entering the stormwater system. Possible point sources for groundwater contamination, such as oil/water separators, will be removed in 2001. Ten thousand feet of sanitary sewer pipe have been replaced over the last two years, greatly decreasing chances of sewage leaks.

Mountain Home Air Force Base implemented several toxic reduction measures to help reduce and manage hazardous materials. Many industrial shops on base have operating procedures that incorporate pollution prevention initiatives that reduce the generation of hazardous waste. Examples include high pressure/low volume jet washers, absorbent pad compressing devices and wash-water filtering systems. The Hazardous Material Pharmacy is a facility that serves to minimize and track the ordering, storage, distribution and use of hazardous material. The pharmacy uses a complex software package, the Air Force Environmental Management Information System (AF-EMIS), to track and report hazardous materials on base.

The Central Collection Facility (CCF) is a 90-day collection point where generated wastes are tested for toxicity, then stored, shipped and recycled. The CCF contains several product reuse lockers for both industrial shops and base housing residents. The facility also uses a drum crusher to crush and recycle 55-gallon drums. A bulb crusher is used to recycle the glass in fluorescent light bulbs and remove the hazardous products. All expired or unused materials from base industrial centers or business offices are reclaimed through the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office (DRMO). This office gathers unused items and sells them in either public or private markets.

Pollution prevention is accomplished in several ways at Mountain Home AFB. The curbside recycling and compost programs have been extremely successful in reducing the amount of refuse sent to the landfill. The MHAFB Recycling Center is a one-acre $750,000 collection/processing facility -- slated to market more than 2.5 million pounds of nonhazardous waste during the FY2000. The center currently handles more than 32 separate waste streams including wood, cardboard, white bond paper, metals, glass, plastics, major appliances and reusable masonry products. The staff can collect, segregate, process and ship in excess of 200,000 pounds of material per month on a 12-month average. So far, 2,143,701 pounds have been shipped to the market, yielding more than $66,000 for FY 2000.

Military aircraft are painted in large paint booths preventing vapors and particulates from being released into the environment. Aircraft emissions are captured and monitored by a complex VOC collection and particulate filter system. Mountain Home AFB is the only facility in Idaho that uses Stage I and II vapor capturing equipment on fuel dispensers, removing 12 tons of VOC air emissions each year. The Propulsion Shop uses a special heating system to burn off carbon deposits from jet engines, which is safer and less toxic than previous methods.

In February 2000, Idaho Gemstar, a state-sponsored pollution prevention program, presented Mountain Home AFB with an environmental award for its leadership in pollution prevention efforts both on base and in the local community.

Honorable Mention for
Other Environmental Achievers

Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory, Idaho Falls, Idaho, has been recognized nationally and internationally for its alternative fuel initiatives and advances. They provided alternate fuel buses for the 1996 Summer Olypics in Atlanta, Ga., and the Summit of Eight in Denver, Colo.

Nalco Exxon Energy Chemicals, Sugarland, Texas, received the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission's 2000 Texas Environmental Excellence Award based on the breadth and variety of the facility's waste minimization and source reduction activities and its voluntary decision to close down an onsite hazardous waste incinerator.

Lockhead Martin Missiles & Fire Control Operations, Troy, Ala., received in 1998 the Alabama Recycling Coalition In-House Recycling Award, the Alabama Productivity Center's Alabama Quality Award and the Lockheed Martin Corporate Environmental, Safety and Health Excellence Award.

Nominations for our 2001
Facilities of the Year Competition

Do you anticipate that your facility will be formally recognized in 2001 for pollution prevention strategies, innovative design or other environmental accomplishments? If so, please let us know and we'll consider it for the title of one of our next year's five Facilities of the Year, which will be covered in our December 2001 issue. Every year we salute the top industrial plants, wastewater and drinking water operations, landfills or other types of facilities that have been singled out for outstanding environmental achievements by governmental regulators, trade associations or other professional groups. The deadline for submissions for next year's competition will be August 1, 2001. If you're interested, please contact Angela Neville, editor-in-chief, at aneville@stevenspublishing.com or (972) 687-6721.

Angela Neville, JD, REM, is editor-in-chief of Environmental Protection. She can be reached via e-mail at aneville@stevenspublishing.com

This article originally appeared in the 12/01/2000 issue of Environmental Protection.