US Army Corps of Engineers
Jacksonville District Website

From state-of-the-art school to complex environmental projects, IIS sets the standard

Published Jan. 7, 2013
Approximately 11,000 lineal feet of pipeline and 10 underground storage tanks were removed from the former Arecibo Airdrome in Puerto Rico.

Approximately 11,000 lineal feet of pipeline and 10 underground storage tanks were removed from the former Arecibo Airdrome in Puerto Rico.

Shovels hit the ground, signifying the beginning of construction for a state-of-the art elementary school at Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico. The school is one of the first Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools that will incorporate 21st century school design elements. Pictured (l to r): Michael Gould, DoDEA school superintendent; Maj. Gen. Antonio J. Vicens, Adjuntant General of the Puerto Rico National Guard; Dr. Elizabeth Middlemiss, DoDEA headquarters; Col. Susan Heard , Fort Buchanan commander; Lydia Blazquez, Antilles Elementary School principal; Capt. J.C. Cordon, deputy district engineer for the Antilles; Yamil Castillo, chief, Antilles Construction Office; and William Gilbane III, Gilbane Company.

Shovels hit the ground, signifying the beginning of construction for a state-of-the art elementary school at Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico. The school is one of the first Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools that will incorporate 21st century school design elements. Pictured (l to r): Michael Gould, DoDEA school superintendent; Maj. Gen. Antonio J. Vicens, Adjuntant General of the Puerto Rico National Guard; Dr. Elizabeth Middlemiss, DoDEA headquarters; Col. Susan Heard , Fort Buchanan commander; Lydia Blazquez, Antilles Elementary School principal; Capt. J.C. Cordon, deputy district engineer for the Antilles; Yamil Castillo, chief, Antilles Construction Office; and William Gilbane III, Gilbane Company.

Innovation and outside-of-the-box thinking were some of the keys to success for the Interagency and International Support (IIS) Branch in 2012.  

Jacksonville District has begun work on the Antilles Elementary School at Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico. The $51 million project is being constructed for the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) under a design-build contract awarded in June 2012 to Gilbane Building Company.

The state-of-the-art school is one of the first DoDEA schools to incorporate 21st century design elements.  It will serve approximately 890 students and a staff of 120 and will include a gym, health services, art rooms, flexible studio learning areas and exploratory and outdoor spaces.  The two-story school will also have an open floor plan that will accommodate future flexibility of the interior spaces and encourage collaboration. A groundbreaking ceremony was held Nov. 29 and construction is anticipated to be completed by April 2014. Once completed, the school is expected to achieve a Leadership Engineering and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver rating as an energy efficient and environmentally sustainable school. 

The Defense Environmental Restoration Program for Formerly Used Defense Sites (DERP-FUDS) section went above and beyond, surpassing the national goal for contract obligations.

“I’m proud of this team,” said John Keiser, team lead and FUDS program manager. “They made progress on 90 active projects in Fiscal Year (FY) 2012, and collectively raised their hand to receive not one, not two, but three plus-ups in FUDS funds between June and August. After receiving the final funds the afternoon of Aug. 30, the team awarded $2.8 million in contracts within about 24 hours, pushing the nationwide obligations to 90.4 percent and helping the national FUDS program meet its August metric.”

Overall, Jacksonville District’s FUDS team met or exceeded every established headquarters FY12 FUDS metric and obligated over 170% of the scheduled program.

The district completed the first Five Year Reviews of previously approved decision documents for six projects: Brooksville Turret Gunnery Range, Fort Pierce Naval Amphibious Base, McCoy Air Force Base, Fort Segarra Virgin Islands, Camp Gordon Johnston and Air to Ground Gunnery Range Pinellas and formally closed out one site, the former McCoy Air Force Base, after resolving with regulators that the site no longer required reviews. Five Year Reviews are required by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), the law under which the DERP-FUDS program is implemented, to ensure that remedial actions continue to be protective of human health and the environment.

The receipt of a site rehabilitation completion order from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection confirmed the completion of work at the former Lee Field, Building 245 and the former Drew Field, Site 2. The regulatory agency also concurred with completion of work at two former chemical warfare materiel project sites, the former Brooksville Army Airfield in Hernando County and the former Fort Pierce Naval Amphibious Base in St. Lucie County.

The governor of Puerto Rico submitted a request to the Secretary, Department of Defense (DoD) to conduct a study related to the possible presence of unexploded ordnance remaining on the Northwest Peninsula of the island of Culebra from past military use of the site.  Jacksonville District’s FUDS team was subsequently given responsibility for completing this congressionally mandated study within 174 days, when historically this type of project takes 18 months.

 Despite working in a remote location, performing the fieldwork in the peak of hurricane season, and encountering more than 40 munitions during fieldwork, the Corps completed the study in 170 days, optimizing use of existing site information and data from new field investigations. The 408-acre study area was characterized according to the density and accessibility of unexploded ordnance that could possibly remain in the area, and individual costs were itemized for each density and accessibility condition. This information will be useful in the continued protection of the community members and tourists who use the area as well as the environment.  Upon receiving the report, a DoD official commented, “I thought it was excellent!  It addressed all the issues clearly and succinctly. Nice to see a nice, high quality, short report.”

The district awarded three Remedial Investigation contracts for various water areas around Culebra, with the first phase of field operations beginning in November 2012. The purpose of the initial phase is for establishment of baseline physical conditions and environmental resources.

Contractor field operations and district oversight resulted in the successful removal of approximately 11,000 lineal feet of pipeline and 10 underground storage tanks from the former Arecibo Airdrome in Puerto Rico. This removal eliminates the hazard from any possible petroleum or oil remaining on the site.

Work was also completed at the former Point Lima Gun Emplacement site in Puerto Rico.

The FUDS team used new technology, a helicopter magnetometer, for its initial fieldwork at the Avon Park FUDS in Highlands County, Fla. The helicopter, which flies at 30 to 40 mph just six feet above the ground, produces a better signal response from ferrous metallic debris at the site.  Because of the open prairie land and minimal obstructions at the site, use of the helicopter was ideal. Four 649-acre and two 20,000-acre munitions response sites were flown and characterized. The work was completed at a fraction of the cost of ground-based digital geophysical mapping.

The completed Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study at the former Brooksville Turret Gunnery Range, which documents the nature and extent of potential contamination, resulted in a reduced area for future remedial response actions, from approximately 10,000 acres down to 100 acres. The end result will be a more focused remedial response with substantial cost savings for the taxpayer.  

According to the project manager, Frank Araico, the Brooksville Turret Gunnery Range was “a daunting site in excess of 10,000 acres which contained everything from heavily wooded areas to densely populated areas.”

Many challenges were overcome during the project. There were large seasonal populations which complicated fieldwork. “We worked during the winter, at peak population, which complicated fieldwork. We had to do a lot of evacuations.”

Araico said with this project, more evacuations (to establish a safety perimeter during fieldwork) were done in one day than what is typically done for an entire project.

“Although we had complications and challenges, we got the work done on time and within budget,” Araico said.