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It is also the responsibility of Marines to ensure the integrity of the natural landscapes aboard base. During last year's Earth Day festivities Marines gathered at the shoreline to ensure the base was clean on both land and sea.

Photo by Frances Seybold

Marine environmental engineers help keep the base clean and safe

12 Mar 2018 | Frances Seybold The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website



It is said a clean, safe and healthy environment results in a much more productive, happy and healthy environment for all to work and live in.

This Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) involves wastewater management, air pollution control, recycling, waste disposal, radiation protection, industrial hygiene, animal agriculture, environmental sustainability, public health and environmental engineering law.

Environmental engineering is concerned with scientific and engineering principles for the protection of human populations from the effects of adverse environmental factors. This may include protection of environments, both local and global, as well as improvement of environmental quality.
It is the responsibility of the Marine Corps environmental engineer to study the air, ground and water and identify and analyze sources of pollution and its effects on their installation.

Furthermore, it is their responsibility to find plausible solutions in the field of public health and implement laws which promote adequate sanitation in urban, rural and recreational areas.

But, even more so these Marines inspire the community to live in safe and healthy environments by directing programs to control safety and health hazards in the workplace.

Much of the work Marine environmental engineers conduct is done at research laboratories. However, aboard Quantico environmental engineers can be found in the Natural Resources Environmental Affairs(NREA) headquarters conducting their research. 

Aboard base these Marines can also be found at the water treatment plant, base facilities and recycling center conducting essential services that maintain a safe and healthy environment. 

However, the majority of the work done aboard Quantico is conducted outside in Quantico’s natural landscape, including the trails, shoreline, ranges and woodland areas.

Maj. John Crutchfield, acting environmental health and safety officer, currently leads a team of two Marines with various environmental projects aboard base.

Since there is no official required training school for enlisted environmental engineers much of the MOS is learned through on-the-job training. Additionally, Marines receive various certifications to operate various machinery and handling and disposal of hazardous materials.

Cpl. Spencer Patterson, who was formally trained in the primary MOS of combat engineer, has since received the secondary MOS of environmental engineer after being assigned to Marine Corps Base Quantico

Where it is typically his job as a combat engineer to perform various duties accompanying demolitions and construction through altering, repairing and maintaining buildings and structures, his role as an environmental engineer is based upon the conservation of the environment.

Some of Patterson’s skills still translate from his combat engineer role to the environmental engineer position.This includes the pick-up and transport of hazardous and recyclable material, including ammunition on the training ranges by bracing and utilizing rigging devices, which aid in the transport of materials.

Then there are environmental engineering officers, such as Crutchfield who receive formal education with a background in engineering management.

Crutchfield was able to receive his education from the Air Force Institute of Technology, Graduate School of Engineering and Management via the Commandant’s Education Program.

At the university, he learned how to assess studies on various factors affecting the environment surrounding him and then how to evaluate the significance of hazards and develop and promote regulations which advise the community on proper treatment to prevent mishaps.

During 2017, Crutchfield, with the assistance of NREA, organized more than 250 volunteer hours clearing new nature trails and picking up more than 17 tons of trash and recyclables.

This was done during a week-long Earth Day recycling initiative to clean up the base’s natural landscape and create an environment that Marines and civilians aboard base could be proud of.

Because of the Earth Day initiative, NREA was able to raise enough money to build a Paintball Park at Quantico, located off McCard Road behind Butler Stadium.

The Earth Day recycling initiative also inspired a recycling program at Lejeune Hall to encourage the community to maintain a clean office space by further helping to reduce the rate of trash thrown away.

The environmental engineering MOS does a lot of work to keep the base safe and clean and all they ask is the base community help do their part by reducing the trash on the trails and other natural areas and recycle when possible. 

They also ask when recycling or disposing of hazardous materials such as paint, light bulbs and batteries that everybody follow the base orders.

As Earth Day is fast approaching (it falls on Sunday, April 22), the environmental engineers and the NREA have already begun planning a week filled with  environmentally conscious festivities to continue the progress the base made last year.

Where the environmental team is small in total force a community working together can make a larger impact.