Environmental programs and projects at Sasebo Naval Base and Naval Air Facility Atsugi are garnering national attention.

Air quality improvements and water conservation were among initiatives that helped the two Japan bases win two of the three overseas environmental quality awards in the 2004 Chief of Naval Operations environmental competition, the Navy announced this week.

Across the Navy, 28 winners were selected for various awards in the competition, which is sponsored by CNO Environmental Readiness Division.

Sasebo and Atsugi will compete in the overseas division against Naval Support Activity Bahrain for a Secretary of Navy environmental award, said Thomas Blackmer, regional environmental program director for Commander Naval Forces Japan. The winner in that category vies with other services for Defense Department honors.

Sasebo’s accomplishments, according to a CNFJ news release, included increased air emissions tests, improved water management and increased efforts to prevent pollution and reduce waste. The base also is developing an environmental management system, which Blackmer said helps an installation become a better environmental steward.

“It organizes all your environmental programs under a process that you can document,” he said, “so if somebody leaves, somebody comes in, the system is in place; you can see what the environmental concerns are, what the environmental projects are. It’s just to improve the process, to make it more effective, from the top to the bottom.”

Recent environmental achievements at Atsugi included installing waste-water recycling systems to conserve almost 400,000 gallons of water annually. Atsugi’s environmental teams also reduced hazardous-waste generation, according the CNFJ news release.

Blackmer described Atsugi’s wastewater recycling system as closed-loop recycling wash racks, installed in the ground on the flight line, at the Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department facility and at the Navy aviation depot, Naval Air Pacific Repair Activity.

“Normally, when you spray off your car, water goes anyplace,” Blackmer said, using one example. “This water is recaptured; it goes through a filter and is reused ... so it saves a tremendous amount of water.”

CNFJ officials said residents of both bases also took part with nearby Japanese communities in Earth Day activities, including cleaning up local roadways and waterways and planting trees.

“We feel good that Sasebo and Atsugi have been able to win these awards this year, and we’re looking to continue in environmental stewardship and environmental compliance by improving processes and winning more awards in the future,” Blackmer said Thursday.

The winners will receive their awards May 3 at the U.S. Navy Memorial and Naval Heritage Center in Washington, D.C.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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