Various types of heavy equipment can be seen traversing across construction sites aboard Marine Corps Base (MCB) Camp Blaz with the sound of beeping filling the air. But what the general public cannot see, nor be aware of is the numerous permits and environmental mitigations set in place to ensure a responsible military build up.
Brian Antolin, the lead environmental compliance specialist for Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command Marianas at MCB Camp Blaz, is a vital member of the base’s environmental section that is responsible for the environmental mitigations set in place. One of which involves the base’s water supply.
Antolin assists Guam’s Environmental Protection Agency in conducting their annual well inspection to ensure the base was in compliance with regulatory requirements. With his assistance, the Guam (EPA) was brought to the numerous water wells on Camp Blaz to draw water samples along with DZSP 21 and Sundance-EA LLC who is contracted to manage the components and devices used to extract water for the base. The inspection ensured wells are not being over pumped from the Northern Guam Lens Aquifer, which provides 80% of the drinking water for the residents of Guam.
As simultaneous construction projects are conducted on MCB Camp Blaz at any given time, Antolin and his section conduct inspections to ensure contractors are in compliance with environmental and safety mitigations outlined in their building permits. Examples of environmental mitigations are the use of silk fences around job sites to prevent surface runoff water from entering fresh water supplies and the management of green waste byproducts that can attract invasive bugs such as the coconut rhinoceros beetle.
Green waste is biodegradable waste comprised of grass clippings, leaves, brush, limbs and other materials generated during the horizontal clearing of land for the base. Once created, green waste is not taken off the base, but reused for other purposes such as mulching for various work sites. Nets are also used on top of green waste piles to catch the invasive beetles.
Other environmental mitigations can also ensure the survival of native plants and animals on Guam. An example includes the native plant nursery on MCB Camp Blaz that is being used to grow green-leafy plants known as Procris pedunculata and Elatostema calcareum to help relocate and rebuild populations of the Mariana eight-spot butterfly.
“What I really like about my job is knowing we are really giving back to the community and protecting our land and resources,” said Antolin, a native of Guam from the village of Dededo. “It makes me happy knowing we are protecting our drinking water systems for the next generation that comes after us— for our children.”
Antolin’s environmental compliance section covers not only natural and cultural resources, but other mediums such as storm water pollution prevention, solid and hazardous waste, and permit renewals.
“We are an interdisciplinary team who can adapt and provide assistance with everything that involves cultural resources,” said Antolin. “And under the environmental compliance umbrella, we maintain that compliance component to the base.”
MCB Camp Blaz will continue to ensure a responsible construction process through extensive joint efforts with the Government of Guam, federal and local agencies, and institutions to build upon more than a decade’s of investments and interagency planning.
As part of the Defense Policy Review Initiative, MCB Camp Blaz is the result of an agreement between the Government of Japan and United States to redistribute Marine Corps elements from Japan to Guam. The location of Guam secures a Marine Corps posture in the Indo-Pacific region that is geographically distributed under Marine Corps Installations Pacific.