Misawa subject to both U.S., Japanese environmental standards
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — It could be the mother of all checklists: One section out of a total of 13 is 120 pages long.
Hazardous storage containers labeled. Check.
Fire extinguisher working. Check.
Used batteries disposed of properly. Check.
Being a good environmental steward in Japan takes a lot of work. The base must comply with two sets of environmental regulations — Japanese environmental standards and U.S. Defense Department and Air Force environmental policies.
The stakes are high.
“If you have a discrepancy, you have the potential for a negative impact to a person, government property or the environment,” said Brent Hefty, 35th Civil Engineer Squadron environmental flight chief.
For five days last week, 49 airmen, sailors and civilian personnel plucked from nearly every base unit fanned out across the installation to ensure there are no such discrepancies in Misawa’s Environmental, Safety, Occupational Health and Compliance Assessment Management Program (ESOH CAMP).
It’s an annual review, but it’s also practice for a Pacific Air Forces ESOH CAMP inspection in April, one that occurs every three years.
For last week’s ESOH CAMP, evaluators looked at the following programs: water quality, wastewater, petroleum, oil and lubricants, hazardous materials, hazardous waste, storage tanks and the newly created environmental management system.
There’s a checklist for each.
One requirement is ensuring that every container storing hazardous chemicals, such as jet fuel or hydraulic fluid, includes specific instructions for safe handling, said Paul Teasley, the Navy’s environmental director at Misawa. “Do you use Neoprene gloves, do you need a respirator, a splash shield, an apron?”
A team of assessors briefed commanders Tuesday on the internal ESOH CAMP results.
“This year we found less deficiencies than in the past,” Hefty said.
One area targeted for improvement is training.
“If you have a shop where someone is using hazardous materials, they need to make sure they’re trained on how to properly use the material and how to safely handle the waste material,” Hefty said.
But environmental training is a constant challenge to military installations, he said, due to personnel turnover and busy deployment schedules.
It’s important, Hefty said, that the base do well in ESOH CAMP, but the review also is an opportunity to fix problems, provide positive feedback and educate units on proper environmental practices.