2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 3 Feb 2003 14:05:37 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
The following was posted by Theodore Henry <ted@theodorejhenry.com>

Despite the challenging backdrop of two serious issues being at the
forefront of the Aberdeen
Proving Ground RAB concerns, perchlorate contamination and freedom of
information, the APG
RAB celebrated a key member in our cleanup effort moving on to a new
position. Steve Hirsh was
the EPA Remedial Project Manager at APG for approximately 12 years. He
was very important in
moving the process forward, resolving differences, and truly including
the community in the
decision-making process, including involving the TAG group (community
and its advisor) in
multi-party working meetings at EPA Region III headquarters.

While there are always differences of opinions from time to time between
parties addressing
complex cleanup issues, Steve never made it personal, never looked down
on the community for
wanting to participate and always tried to do the right thing in working
with the community and
making sure their voice was heard and included as the process moved
forward. In short, Steve was
one of several players involved with APG that learned the importance of
building and maintaining a
working relationship.  It is this willingness to learn, to understand
different perspectives and to
remain committed to the process regardless of how a given day or
discussion went that has made
Steve, APG’s Installation Restoration Program, APGSCC (the local
community group with the TAG) and our RAB successful.

At a time of impending war, the future does not look good for the
environmental work many of us
(community members, regulators as well military employees) have fought
for over the years.  In
short, environmental cleanup is moving down on DOD’s list of concerns,
environmental funds will
almost certainly be raided in the upcoming months, and the patriotism of
those who fight for the
environment certainly has been and will continue to be questioned by
some.  In turn, I felt it was
important to post the little going-away celebration we had at our RAB
last night to remind people
that there are good things worth protecting in this process. The
Garrison Commander Colonel Mark
presented Steve with a coin from General Doesburg. The Aberdeen Proving
Ground Superfund
Citizens Coalition presented Steve with a plaque and an APGSCC member
presented Steve with a
US flag that was flown over the Capitol by the authority of Senator
Sarbanes in Steve’s honor.  And, while I have seen many situations where
such ceremony or such good-byes were all fluff, I believe everyone there
would agree that it did have meaning and substance and was a sign of
appreciation and a job well done.

The lesson in my humble opinion is that good work, solid relationships
and clear evidence of
accomplishment can come out of the ugly mission of cleaning up 8 decades
of contamination, if the
parties involved refuse to give up, are willing to learn and figure out
a way to work together despite
the differences. At APG, I can assure you that our relentless
persistence will not disappear
because of Steve’s departure. It will not disappear if dollars assigned
for cleaning up our country is
used for war. It will not disappear if environmental information is
withheld in the future out of national
security.  We will continue to find ways to work with APG and find
compromise. If, on certain topics
our efforts to work together fail, we will look for our elected
officials to provide their insights and
leverage to break the impasse on that issue. And even if we must do this
at times, we will still work
with APG on other issues and be there at the table the next month to
continue the work that has to
be done – conducting environmental cleanup on federal facilities with
the community being involved
and having a say in what they live next to, the water they drink, etc.

We are in some dark times on the environmental front, so it may be easy
to get discouraged in the
months to come. In turn, we all should remember that the dedication of
RABs, other community
members and government employees who truly are committed to a protective
cleanup process is as
strong and respectable as the dedication and fearlessness of the men and
women who fight wars for
the freedom of this country.

Ted Henry
APG RAB Member

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