By Ms. Mary Ann Davis (IMCOM)September 18, 2018
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany -- U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pflaz's environmental compliance will be measured during an Environmental Performance Assessment and Assistance System audit, Sept. 10-20, to ensure the garrison continues to be a conscientious steward of the environment.
These triennial assessments are performed by the U.S. Army Environmental Command to identify and mitigate environmental issues and risks to training and operations, allowing the garrisons to fully concentrate on accomplishing the mission.
USAG RP is accountable for more than 10,000 acres of land on 29 installations, so caring for the environment is extremely important and a huge responsibility, said Melissa Malakos, an environmental engineer with the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Management Division.
"Assessors look for how our activities at USAG RP may impact the environment," Malakos explained. "They review our documentation as well as observe equipment, facilities and activities during the course of their two week visit to assess how well the garrison is meeting the environmental requirements published in the Environmental Final Governing Standards for Germany as well as Army and Department of Defense policies and regulations."
Eight AEC assessors from Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, will evaluate media areas to include Petroleum, Oils and Lubricants, toxic-substances, hazardous and universal waste, air emissions, underground storage tanks, medical waste, environmental awareness, pollution prevention, hazardous materials, recycling, storm water and solid waste management.
EPAAS Team Leader Bobby McGough, an environmental scientist with AEC, assessed the garrison in 2015 and will again visit several garrison sites to examine programs, records and speak to workers to perform a thorough review of environmental requirements.
"We will be checking all the environmental media for compliance with the FGS," said McGough, a former Army tanker and medic for 11 years. "We will attempt to find potential environmental impacts to the mission and the environment to prevent issues from becoming problematic. We will also assess corrective actions from previous assessments to look for new potential findings."
Overseas, the FGS are a set of country-specific functional environmental provisions, typically technical limitations on effluent, discharges, etc., or a specific management practice. These standards integrate host-nation laws and Army guidance into one set of environmental standards that installations follow.
"We develop the FGS using a mixture of U.S. and host nation environmental regulations. If one regulation is stricter than the other, we will choose the version that is more protective of the environment to include in the FGS," McGough explained. "The FGS is the standard that the assessors use to evaluate installation environmental processes and programs."
Assessors try their best to evaluate thousands of points of environmental compliance across the garrison, but with only two weeks on the ground, they may not be able to hit all of the areas.
"We try to get a representative sample of the garrison," said Tim Rodeffer, Compliance Branch chief, at U.S. Army Environmental Command. "What this does is provide the garrison commander with an overview of the areas they may need to focus on."
Installation Management Command in San Antonio in coordination with AEC track the findings across all the installations, Rodeffer said. This helps them pinpoint any trends happening across the Army.
A few years ago, EPAAS added "Assistance" to their name "because not only do we assess, but we provide assistance to the installations to help them solve any issues," Rodeffer said. "If units are having issues with hazardous waste, then we try to implement solutions, whether it be additional training or guidance, to provide more continuity for the Army."
McGough agreed with his counterpart, "Our whole intent is to make sure the mission can happen, not just [fault] an installation. The assistance portion doesn't just stop when we leave the site. We provide assistance by phone or email, but if a garrison needs more assistance, we can come back for a Staff Assistance Visit -- free of charge."
With a full picture of the environmental program, assessors are able to identify potential setbacks and opportunities for garrisons to increase efficiencies in their programs.
"Assessments like EPAAS help us identify and address issues as soon possible to mitigate any harm to our environment," said Col. Jason T. Edwards, USAG RP commander, "This also gives us an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment and continue serving as mindful stewards of our environment."