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News | July 3, 2011

Energy and Environmental Projects Highlighted to Assistant Secretary of the Navy

By Andrew Revelos, Naval Support Activity South Potomac Public Affairs Naval Support Activity South Potomac

Major projects in support of critical infrastructure and environmental protection at Naval Support Facility (NSF) Indian Head were discussed in-depth during a June 27 visit to the installation by the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations and Environment. 

The tour for Jackalyne Pfannenstiel began with a briefing from Naval Support Activity South Potomac (NSASP) and Naval District Washington (NDW) officials on the progress of NSF Indian Head's planned "nodal" steam generation plants, the proposed Enhanced Use Lease (EUL) aboard base property, upgrades to the installation's sewage treatment facility and the shoreline stabilization project.

A military construction project 222, currently slated for funding in FY12, will replace NSF Indian Head's aged coal-burning Goddard Steam Plant, in operation since 1957, with a more efficient "nodal" system consisting of two primary and nine secondary steam plants. The Goddard plant currently supplies the installation's steam and provides back-up power generation for commands aboard Indian Head. 

The new, natural gas-powered system's design will offer an estimated 35 percent reduction in the installation's yearly energy costs. Abandoning coal-generated energy will avoid the increasing costs of keeping up with environmental regulations, which mandate expensive steam-scrubbing operations. 

In addition to reducing greenhouse gas and other pollution, the project will fund construction of an eight-mile long natural gas line to the base, and see the removal of approximately 14 miles of old steam lines on the Navy installation. 

"One distinction we have here at Indian Head that we'd like to lose, is [having] the last coal-fired power plant in the Navy," said Capt. Rame Hemstreet, commanding officer for Naval Facilities Engineering Command Washington. 

"We really can't have any interruptions in service," said Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Division (NSWC IHD) commander, Capt. Andy Buduo. The de-centralized nodal system will mitigate power reliability problems currently experienced by NSWC IHD as its works to accomplish its vital mission.

"Clearly, you have unique needs in terms of [power] reliability," said Pfannenstiel while addressing the group. 

Officials also updated the assistant secretary on the EUL, which provides an opportunity for a more efficient use of Navy-owned property through cooperation with the private sector. The proposal could also benefit the community surrounding NSF Indian Head by adding jobs to the region. 

Two lease sites have been proposed on NSF Indian Head, one for power generation and the other for commercial or light industrial use. The Navy requested proposals in April and is currently in a review period. 

The upgrade to NSF Indian Head's Sewage Treatment Plant, scheduled to be completed this fall, was necessitated by stringent new state and federal environmental regulations intended to protect the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The rules require Maryland jurisdictions and wastewater treatment facilities to reduce nitrogen and phosphorous pollutants, and strengthen measures to control pollution in storm water run-off. 

Meeting the tough new requirements has been a "big hurdle," according to one NSASP official, but NSF Indian Head is on schedule to meet the December 2011 compliance deadline.

NSF Indian Head's shoreline stabilization continues its successful status as a major environmental step forward for the Chesapeake Bay area. First conceived in 2002 in response to severe shoreline erosion, the project involves the construction of breakwaters, sills and an intertidal wetland environment designed to protect seven miles of the base's shoreline along the Potomac River and Mattawoman Creek. The initiative, undertaken by Navy in partnership with several conservation agencies, features a "living shoreline" design now serves as a model for restoration projects across the Bay region. 

Following her briefing, Pfannenstiel toured all the project sites, with the shoreline restoration serving as the grand finale.

"Being good stewards of the environment continues to be a priority of the Department of the Navy," said Pfannenstiel. "Indian Head's Shoreline Stabilization project is a prime example of how we are protecting and restoring the environment in conjunction with other federal departments, state agencies, and private sector organizations. The incredible success of this project can serve as a model for similar projects throughout the Navy."