2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 28 Jul 2003 15:35:30 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Base loses key figures in cleanup program
Base loses key figures in cleanup program
Environmental engineer, manager led Fort Meade's decontamination efforts

By Rona Kobell
Originally published July 27, 2003

For the past decade, environmental engineer Jim Gebhardt and his boss,
Paul Robert, have been Fort Meade's go-to guys in the sticky matter of
cleaning up one of the nation's most contaminated military sites.

To the Army brass, they were the civilians who could translate into
plain English the migration of chlorinated solvents. To the civilians
outside the base, they were the Army representatives who always told the
often-ugly truth. To the regulators monitoring the cleanup, they were
the shortest cut through red tape.

By early next month, though, Gebhardt and Robert will be gone from the
Anne Arundel County base.

Gebhardt, who started his Army job in 1994, is moving to Idaho, where he
will help manage the Idaho Panhandle National Forest for the U.S. Forest

Robert, who built the base's cleanup program when he arrived 14 years
ago and now is head of the environmental office, will become an
environmental engineer at NASA's headquarters. The Army has not
announced a replacement for either of them.

In some ways, they're an unlikely pair. Robert, a seasoned government
worker at 46, is more behind-the-scenes manager who says "let me just
say this" before making a point.

Gebhardt, 33, relishes the roll-up-your-sleeves approach, and has been
the office's public face. An avid hunter, he recently transported a buck
through Fort Meade's checkpoint, saying he had no time to deposit it at
his Sykesville home before a night meeting.

"Jim did the hard work, out in the sun. I just showed up," said Robert,
of Edgewater.

News of the departures has stung members of the Restoration Advisory
Board, a group of regulators and Odenton residents who oversee the
base's cleanup.

"The public is at a huge disadvantage without them," said the group's
chairwoman, Zoe Draughon, a Seven Oaks resident. "Now, we start the
learning curve all over again."

Since 1994, that curve has looked more like a roller-coaster as
contamination turned up in unlikely spots on the 86-year-old base and
regulators and Army officials clashed about how best to notify the
public and clean up the mess.

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