The Department of the Air Force and Fort Eustis leaders are asking community members for input to determine if there is interest in establishing a local environmental Restoration Advisory Board.
Restoration Advisory Boards, or RABs, provide a forum for two-way communication between the community and Air Force officials about environmental work being conducted on and around the installation. The boards offer stakeholders access to the environmental restoration process and give members opportunities to review project progress and provide comments to the installation's decision makers concerning environmental restoration matters.
The Air Force Civil Engineer Center is soliciting input as part of a broad and aggressive effort to reach deeply into all segments of the community to ensure every voice is to be heard.
"We want the local populace outside our gates to know we are good stewards of the environment we share with them,” said Army Col. Frankie Cochiaosue, 733d Mission Support Group commander. “While there isn’t a concern of any environmental dangers to our neighbors, it is still paramount the Hampton Roads community have their say in these proceedings. This participation is key to achieving success.”
The latest push for RAB participation and increased community input comes as Air Force officials continue to pledge their commitment to transparency in all elements of the environmental cleanup mission. Nancy Balkus, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Environment, Safety, Infrastructure), affirmed this commitment Aug. 1, 2022, during testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
“While the cleanup program is both legally and technically complex, its underlying purpose is simple: to address the releases attributable to the Air Force in a manner that transparently protects the American people,” she said. “We emphasize maximizing transparency, public participation, and collaboration in all our cleanup activities.”
According to Don Calder, 733d Civil Engineer Squadron, environmental element chief, RABs can provide the community with independent technical assistance to help them better understand scientific and engineering issues associated with environmental cleanup activities on the base.
“A RAB can help community members with reviewing human health risks, assessing technology, interpreting technical documents, and participating in relative risk evaluations,” Calder said. “RABs contribute to better decisions by allowing public input to provide decision makers additional facts, values, and perspectives. This allows them to consider and incorporate the best information and expertise from all stakeholders.
Those interested in learning more about the Fort Eustis RAB are asked to contact Katrina Harris at 610-494-8044 or 733MSG.733CES.EUSTISRESTORATION@us.af.mil, or visit www.afcec.af.mil and click on the Restoration Advisory Board icon located in the bottom right corner of the page. Officials are gathering RAB Interest Assessment data throughout the spring and early summer.
The RAB assessment can be accessed in English here: JBLE-Eustis Restoration Advisory Board Community Interest Assessment.pdf (af.mil); in Spanish here: JBLE-Eustis Consejo Asesor de Restauracion Evaluacion de Interes Comunitario_.pdf (af.mil).