2010 CPEO Military List Archive

From: ISIS <isis@hampshire.edu>
Date: Sat, 27 Mar 2010 19:51:33 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: Re: [CPEO-MEF] COMMUNITIES: RABs and TAPP - time to retrain
ISIS agrees:

The old adage "fight like you train; train like you fight" should probably apply to the restoration efforts as well as the combat efforts of the military services.

The correlary is that if we forget to train for community involvement/oversight in the restoration programs, we will eventually fail to involve the community at all.
			sign us up
		  ISIS milwaste staff

On Sat, 27 Mar 2010, Lenny Siegel wrote:

I was part of the effort, beginning 1994, that led to the establishment of more than 300 Restoration Advisory Boards (RABs) at Department of Defense cleanup programs, and which soon included the option of Technical Assistance for Public Participation (TAPP). On the whole, that remarkable experiment in public involvement, a form of direct democracy addressing highly technical issues, has been successful. Many RABs, such as the one at Moffett Field, California, where I remain an active member, provide a forum for constructive criticism of military and regulator plans.

All along, there have been problems at both ends of the spectrum. Some RABs, such as Fort Ord, devolved into shouting matches. Others have proven to be ineffective rubber stamps of government proposals. But on the whole, the neighbors of contaminated military facilities have been given access to information, opportunities to comment, and through TAPP and EPA's Technical Assistance Grant program, the ability to take part in technical discussions. This has not only benefited host communities; it has made the military's cleanup effort stronger.

Back when we set up the RABs, the military hosted a series of conferences and trainings for installation environmental personnel, introducing, among other things, the concept of public participation. I know, because I spoke at a number of such events. But as time progressed, responsibility has been transferred to officials who "knew not Joseph." That is, decisions about RAB operations and the TAPP program are being made by Defense Department personnel who do not fully understand the origins of the program and the value of INDEPENDENT community oversight. So we are seeing a growing number of military installations, such as Badger and New Jersey's Picatinny Arsenal, where disputes over the nature of that oversight have emerged.

I call upon the Defense Department and the Armed Services to work with community representatives to again set up conferences or other training sessions to revive the spirit of the Defense cleanup community involvement program and again put all of us on the same page.



Lenny Siegel
Executive Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight
a project of the Pacific Studies Center
278-A Hope St., Mountain View, CA 94041
Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545
Fax: 650/961-8918

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