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Yokota receives prestigious environmental award

  • Published
  • By TSgt Garrett Cole
  • 374 AW/PA

YOKOTA AIR BASE -- Yokota Air Base received the 2021 Environmental Quality, Overseas Award as part of the Department of Defense's campaign to promote sustainment and environmental conservation. 

Each year, the Secretary of Defense awards installations that have substantially impacted the environment and cultural resources. Of all the military installations overseas, Yokota led the charge by implementing the best environmental policies and programs.

"This award is to showcase installations that excel at protecting human health and the environment," said Jason Thompson, 374th Civil Engineering Squadron environmental chief. "The award was for the period between October 1, 2018, and September 30, 2020, and showcased things like waste reduction efforts, environmental management and other things like community relations."

These awards are broken down into five categories: natural resources conservation, environmental quality, sustainability, environmental restoration and cultural resources management.

"Some of the things we implemented were bilateral training on waste disposal, a partnership with Yokosuka's recycling program and the Tama Hills ecological tours," said Thompson. "Our partnership with the Yokosuka Qualified Recycling Program allowed us to reclaim 8.9 tons of scrap metal, 53 tons of batteries and we avoided $50,000 in disposal costs.”

Some of the other efforts were in conducting extensive environmental inspections, which led to 90 percent compliance, hosting quarterly environmental management meetings and implementing a collaborative effort with the Japanese government on an Environmental Savings Performance Contract which cut energy and utility costs by $15 million per year.

The ecological tours at Tama Hills Recreation Area showcased conservation efforts, headed by retired natural and cultural resource manager, Mr. Yoshitaka Yamaguchi.

"The ecological tours are put on in cooperation with Inagi City and Yokota to enhance the relationship between Tama Hills and the city," said Yamaguchi. "The tour brings 20 to 25 residents on base to experience several different activities, which include a demonstration of how the Air Force is preserving the environment inside the facility."

According to Yamaguchi, the success of the tours strengthens the relations in Inagi City and reinforces the Japan-US alliance.

Thompson said that he owes his success to his team and the unit environmental coordinators. 

"A lot of the praise actually goes to the staff that were here,” said Thompson. “We do have a lot of the same staff as well as the previous chief of environmental. Alexandra Kirk did an amazing job and accomplished so much. We also owe a lot to our UECs, who are basically representatives in charge of all environmental aspects. So we want to continue to work with our UEC coordinators because that's very important to our success for environmental compliance, because they are the point of contact for everything.

"We want to continue to improve processes and joint efforts with the government of Japan, because that's very important to our success. We not only want to be good stewards of the environment, we also want to be good stewards of our host country."