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Landfill Helps Keep GTMO Clean

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS100410-07
Release Date: 4/10/2010 12:26:00 AM

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist (SW) Bill Mesta, Naval Station Guantanamo Bay Public Affairs

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba (NNS) -- Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (NAVSTA GTMO) is affectionately known as the Navy's largest gated community. Within the 45 square miles that makes up the base, land management is important when processing consumer waste produced by base residents.

The NAVSTA GTMO Public Works Department manages the base's landfill where all residential and work related garbage is processed. The solid waste that is produced on base is burned using an incinerator system.

The United States does not have diplomatic relations with the country of Cuba, so the Naval Station must produce its own water and electricity, in addition to disposing its own waste products.

"We have three choices for disposing of trash: you can haul it all off, you can bury it all, or you can burn it then bury it." said Lt. j.g. Jonathan Charfauros, the NAVSTA GTMO energy officer. "Most other naval facilities haul off their trash to off-base sites."

NAVSTA GTMO's isolated nature makes hauling trash to an off-base site by barge economically unfeasible. If the base buried its trash in a traditional landfill, the space allotted for waste processing would become full very quickly.

NAVSTA GTMO produces approximately 15 tons of garbage a day.

"That adds up to a lot of space," said Charfarous. "By burning it, we reduce the amount of space the garbage takes up."

Burning GTMO's trash reduces the amount of space taken up in the landfill by 75 percent.

With an ash landfill, NAVSTA GTMO achieves more compaction. This means more options as to the usage of the land once the landfill is full.

"You cannot build anything on top of a traditional landfill because of the voids that are created when the refuse deteriorates," said Charfarous. "We are using a better method for follow-on land usage with our ash landfill than you would with a regular landfill."

In the future, the Public Works Department hopes to install new technology that uses the combustion process to produce electricity. The waste energy incinerator system will use the garbage incineration process to help augment the base's electrical grid.

Another way the base manages the land is by recycling metal, plastics and glass. Recycling helps to reduce premature filling of the base landfill and makes the raw products available to be reused.

To help the Naval Station manage the land effectively, it is important for GTMO's residents to separate recycled materials because these items will cause the landfill to fill up too quickly.

"The recyclable material is separated out so that we can process them separately from the garbage that is being burned," said Tim Wagoner the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southeast assigned resource efficiency manager, "We don't want to fill the landfill with all of these materials."

Household hazardous materials disposal is another issue that GTMO faces when processing the base's refuse. Car batteries, oily waste and household cleaning products are a few of the hazardous items that should never be disposed of with common household refuse.

The NAVSTA GTMO Environmental Department manages a program for recycling automobile batteries. Car batteries that are turned in will ultimately be shipped to the United States for recycling. In 2009 this program saved the base $80,000.

When GTMO's residents change the oil in their vehicles, they should turn the old motor oil into the Navy Exchange Auto Port.

"This oil will actually be used as some of the fuel for the base's diesel, electric generators," said Charfarous.

There are many ways that GTMO's residents can reduce garbage on the base. With Earth Day being celebrated base wide on April 23, Charfarous encourages GTMO residents to become more environmentally conscious consumers.

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