The Department of Defense (DoD) relies on a large number of installations with extensive supporting infrastructure to prepare for and execute missions. In fact, the DoD is responsible for over 7,000 sites worldwide. Many installations, and their supporting infrastructure systems (e.g., energy, transportation, water resources, and medical services) are located in areas prone to natural hazards such as floods, coastal storm surge, droughts, extreme temperatures, fires, winds, and other events.
Many of you were able to attend the 2017 SERDP & ESTCP Symposium in Washington last November. We had 950 attendees for the Plenary Session, two days of technical sessions, short courses, and posters. I really enjoyed interacting with our many investigators and their students over the course of the Symposium.
The SERDP and ESTCP Munitions Response Program held an In-Progress Review in late February. We heard presentations from both FY-17 new starts and projects from earlier funding cycles that are completing. I’ll highlight a few of the projects for those that were unable to attend.
ESTCP 2017 Project-of-the-year Award for Environmental Restoration
1,4-Dioxane, a cyclic diether used as an additive in chlorinated solvents is a common and persistent groundwater contaminant. While conventional soil vapor extraction (SVE) can remove some 1,4-dioxane, a substantial residual source is left behind causing long-term groundwater contamination. Due to the compound’s complete miscibility in water, 1,4-dioxane becomes sequestered in the vadose zone pore water which serves as a long-term source of groundwater contamination.
ESTCP 2017 Project-of-the-Year Award for Resource Conservation and Resiliency
Detection of amphibian and fish species using conventional survey methods is not always possible. At least 22 at-risk amphibian species and over 40 at-risk fish species are known to occur on DoD lands. For elusive species, such as many amphibians and fishes, lack of reliable monitoring data can lead to an underestimate of the species’ distribution. An efficient alternative to traditional field surveys is the use of environmental DNA (eDNA) to detect species presence. Animals shed cells with their DNA into the environment regularly (through the shedding of skin, mucous, and excrement). By sampling this shed DNA, researchers can infer a species’ presence in the sampled environment using existing genetic methods.
ESTCP 2017 Project of the Year Award for Munitions Response
Disposal of underwater unexploded ordnance (UXO) encountered during a munitions response is commonly conducted using two primary methods: tow-to-shore and blow in place. Tow-to-shore operations require transporting UXO from an underwater site to the shore for disposal. This process requires evacuating the surrounding area, and endangers DoD personnel who handle and transport UXO.
ESTCP 2017 Project of the Year Weapons Systems & Platforms
Finishing systems for military vehicles require pretreatments that enhance adhesion and provide resistance to corrosion. These treatments either directly contain toxic metals, or require a sealer or other rinse products that do.
ESTCP 2017 Project-of-the-Year Award for Energy and Water
Conventional Geothermal Heat Pumps (GHP) Heating, Ventilating and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) systems are considered one of the most efficient active HVAC systems. According to the Whole Building Design Guide and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), GHPs use 25% to 50% less electricity and offer energy savings of up to 40% compared to the conventional heating or cooling systems. They are relatively quieter, last longer, need little maintenance, and do not depend on the temperature of the outside air.
SERDP 2017 Project-of-the-year Award for Environmental Restoration
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are common contaminants at sites where aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) was used. Currently, the understanding of the composition of individual PFASs and their precursors in AFFF formulations and their impact on priority pollutant biotransformation is limited.