Environmental Initiatives at USAG Daegu
Richard Santos, Environmental Protection Specialist from USAG Daegu Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division gives presentation in the Environment Meeting, June 13 at Command Conference Room, Camp Henry. (Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of USAG Daegu DPW Environmental Division)
Q: What is your name and what is your job title?
A: My name is Richard Santos and I am an Environmental Protection Specialist working for USAG Daegu Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division
Q: Can you tell me a little bit about your Area of Responsibility or duties?
A: My primary areas of responsibilities are the Hazardous Materials and Environmental Officers training programs. I conduct compliance inspections to ensure that the procurement, use, storage and management of HM is done in accordance with all applicable regulations and policies. I review HM products used by the installation to ensure that we are using nonhazardous alternatives where practicable, make sure that all users are authorized the materials for use, and all HM is recorded and tracked. Bottom line all HM have to be tracked from "Cradle to Grave" meaning from the time it's ordered until it becomes a waste. We use the Environmental Safety and Occupational Health --Management Information System to record all HM that enters Area IV. I'm responsible for ensuring that all EESOH-MIS users maintain their access and have the required specialized training to accomplish their jobs. Training is required for all units/organizations that have the potential to impact the environment, and my job is to provide that training. I provide training to HM and Hazardous Waste handlers, as well as Unit Environmental Officers.
Q: Do you have any success stories or accomplishments regarding your programs?
A: HM reuse and recycling Initiatives such as our Free Issue Program, Antifreeze Recycling, and finding alternative products that are less hazardous contributed to the Garrison saving over $315K dollars in disposal cost during this fiscal year. However, the total cost savings since FY15 has been a whopping $1.9 million dollars. We also enhanced our Household Chemical Reuse program. This program allows personnel living in military family housing or barracks to drop by our Self Help Store and acquire usable consumer type products. Personnel who are making a PCS move either onto the Garrison or leaving may pick up or drop off any usable consumer type product that is in its original container and properly labeled. This program helps the consumer by not have to make a new purchase, thus saving the consumer money and also helps prevent improper disposal of hazardous chemicals in the trash. The Environmental Officer training program has also been really successful. To date we have about 97 appointed and trained EO's, we only require 74. So basically we have more eyes and ears at the unit level to help monitor our activities that could possibly impact the environment. Having personnel trained and aware of their environmental aspects and impacts is imperative to understanding how to be compliant. The Global Harmonization System has brought a lot of changes to the hazardous material arena. One of the key elements of the GHS is changing the method from "Right to know" to "Right to Understand." Basically meaning that every employee in the workplace should not only know what hazards are around them but understand why they are hazardous. Hazardous Materials are all around us but it's my job to make sure that we all follow the rules to ensure that safety is priority. My main mission is to help prevent pollution and minimize our impacts to the environment. One initiative that I am spearheading is the startup of a Hazardous Material Management Program. The purpose of a Hazardous Material Management Program is to integrate accountability and safe handling procedures for hazardous materials into day-to-day decision-making, planning, operations, and compliance across all Army missions, activities, and functions on an installation.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to the community to know?
A: Yes, I would like to let everyone know that we all can play a part by being good environmental stewards to our planet. We are at a point in our society where our precious resources such as fresh water are in danger of being contaminated. Also please note that every unit/organization that has the potential to impact the environment should have an Environmental Officer appointed and trained, both primary and alternate. If you have questions regarding hazardous materials please contact us. Also if you need training or want to know how you can be proactive and be good stewards to the environment please contact me at DSN 765-1201.
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