Hard Skills Training Center at Old Smelting Plant Site?

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Our blog friend TSB over at The Skeptical Bureaucrat recently had an interesting post on the Contaminated Industrial Site Proposed for Diplomatic Security Training Center.

A local official was quoted saying “Given that Eastalco was there smelting aluminum and there was enough of a buffer,” the 150-acre training center in the middle of a 2,000-acre site shouldn’t be a problem.”

TSB’s translation: “By which he apparently meant that the training center’s presence shouldn’t bother local residents because the center will be right smack in the middle of the hazardous waste left behind by decades of aluminum smelting, and not close to them. Whether that should be a problem for the hundreds of DSS employees who would work and train at the center, Delegate Weldon didn’t say.”

The site can be cleaned up for a mere cost of roughly $200 million — “sufficiently to use it as a landfill.” Politicians are getting into the act, lobbying for the center to be built in their own backyards. Read TSB’s whole post here. Also read this on Eastalco’s plan on marketing the site for new uses.

The State Department is overseeing $600 million of investment for seven projects and a funds transfer to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The training center at issue here is the Hard Skills Training Center, one of its seven projects. The plan calls for its location within 150 miles of Washington, D.C., The Eastalco site is located about 45 miles from D.C.

Here is State Department’s summary for the training center:

Construct a training facility capable of supporting hard skills security-related training for the Department and the wider foreign affairs community. The existing security training infrastructure is not sufficient to meet current and projected training needs. Recovery Act funds along with regular Worldwide Security and Protection (WSP) appropriated funds will enable the Department to construct a hard skills training campus that meets the increased demand for security training and makes the delivery of security training more efficient than the current arrangement of 15 separate locations throughout the United States. Specifically, the Foreign Affairs Counter Threat course, already mandated for federal employees assigned to only five specific posts, will be expanded to include all critical and high threat posts worldwide. This project will enable the Department to provide vital security training to law enforcement and security staff and all foreign affairs employees; especially those assigned to critical and high threat posts.

This hard skills training facility will use both ARRA stimulus funds and WSP funding. Currently, the Department has $105.5 million programmed to support this project ($70 M ARRA, $17.55M FY 2009 WSP, and another $18M in WSP) in FY2009. Subsequent phases of the project will be funded through WSP. The FY 2010 budget request seeks an additional $12.5M to bring annual WSP funding for this project to $30 million/year. As requested in the joint explanatory statement accompanying the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2008 (Div. J, P.L. 110-161), the Department produced a report in May 2008 outlining the Department’s increased need for security training and provided the initial project concepts for a training facility as part of a consolidated security training complex. The report called for the development of a master plan starting with an Architectural & Engineering (A&E) study to help frame the project scope, cost and timelines. Those initial project studies will be completed with ARRA and WSP funds.

In addition, ARRA and FY 2009 WSP funds will be used to complete Phase 1 of the training facility. The consideration and funding of any possible future phases will be subject to annual funding availability and prioritization in the annual budget process. The project concept is to deliver functioning training facilities at the completion of each phase of the project and not have any partially completed training venues.

The State Department is also using ARRA funds for a Data Center – “The Data Center program ($120 million) will build an enterprise data center in the western United States and consolidate all domestic servers into four enterprise data centers.”

I wonder if anyone is interested in pitching for that…