Being green saves Hurlburt major green during no-notice inspection

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Stacy Fowler
  • 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
Many people know that being environmentally friendly can help save a little money over time - but for units at Hurlburt Field, being eco-friendly has saved the base a lot of money.

During a No-Notice Hazardous Waste Inspection by the Environmental Protection Agency Jan. 19, six Hurlburt units had the fate of thousands of dollars in their hands, bins and trashcans.

"When I say 'no notice,' I really mean no notice - we were called 20 minutes before the inspectors arrived at the gate," said Randy Trent, 1st Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron environmental flight base hazardous waste manager. "And if the inspectors had found even one violation it would have cost us big money! Luckily we have some very professional and knowledgeable personnel on this base ... they found absolutely nothing, not one violation."

For example, one violation on just one day of inspections would have cost $32,500; that could include finding one fluorescent bulb in the trash. If it was a fluorescent lamp and a non-alkaline battery, it would have been $65,000. One violation during three days would equal $97,500 - it's easy to rack up the fines.

Now some people might say that not finding any violations isn't that big of a deal - but considering the base hasn't had an inspection like this for five years, that makes a bit of a difference, according to Mr. Trent.

"We're normally inspected every year," he said. "But we've consistently been told we're in great shape and come through these inspections with no problems, so the inspectors made the decision to focus their attention on more [problematic] agencies."

Even though this was the base's first inspection by the EPA in years, Environmental stays prepared. Air Force-wide, Environmental personnel conduct Environmental, Safety and Occupational Health Compliance Assessment and Management Program inspections to ensure compliance of all areas that affect the environment: water, air, soil, hazardous materials, toxic materials and more.

ESOHCAMP inspections let units know what they need to fix and the deadlines to fix them, but it's the EPA inspections that can make or break a base.

This year, the EPA inspected Corrosion Control facility; Hurlburt's 90-day Facility; the Auto Hobby Shop; the 4th Special Operations Squadron; L-3 Communications in Eason Hangar; and Bell Boeing's CV-22 facility.

"It takes a combined effort from all involved to pass a Florida Department of Environmental Protection Hazardous Waste inspection," Mr. Trent said. "The unit environmental coordinators and IAP (initial accumulation point) managers deserve tremendous credit for helping us get the word out, and managing their environmental responsibilities so well."

When EPA inspectors visit Hurlburt again, they won't look at the same places - the inspectors could be anywhere, any time.

"We have more than 53 hazardous waste accumulation points around base," Mr. Trent said. "We generate and properly dispose of more than 186 tons of hazardous waste. And it only takes one violation to cost us a lot of money. For example, another base had more than $4 million worth of fines levied against them - can you imagine what that would have done to us if we had that happen? I'd be out of a job to start with, and the base would have a major problem they would have to fix.

"I wonder every day if we are going to be inspected," he said. "We sometimes go around base looking in trashcans and waste areas, checking things out - just in case we get another phone call."