By Wendy Brown, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public AffairsMarch 6, 2019
CAMP ZAMA, Japan (March 7, 2019) -- The U.S. Army Garrison Japan Environmental Division, Directorate of Public Works, is tops among U.S. military forces in Japan when it comes to environmental compliance.
The division won the U.S. Forces Japan Headquarters Environmental Excellence Award 2018 for Environmental Compliance Programs. U.S. Forces Japan Headquarters is located at Yokota Air Force Base, Japan, and oversees about 54,000 military personnel with the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force.
"It's a good sense of achievement," said Phillip Gust, an environmental protection specialist with the division. "To get acknowledged for the work that we do is pretty nice."
The division's 18 programs range from hazardous waste management to drinking water quality to natural cultural resources and endangered species, and James Brown, chief of the Environmental Division, said he is proud of the 14 people who make up his team.
"(Winning the award) feels great," Brown said. "I have a great team and I can always rely on them to make my job easy."
Gust said the division's responsibility is to ensure all garrison and tenant organizations comply with the Japan Environmental Governing Standards, which regulates how the garrison, for example, disposes of hazardous waste, treats and monitors drinking water or discharges wastewater off the installations.
"Each program is set up to follow specific requirements so we can review them on the standard requirements, make sure that we have the engineering controls in place that we need and that we're meeting the standards," Gust said.
The division is responsible for managing environmental compliance programs for 2,242 acres spread over 12 installations located throughout the island of Honshu, according to the division's award nomination document.
Although the geography makes site assistance and oversight difficult because the division is responsible for more than one central location, strong command support and an emphasis on compliance management allow the division to meet the challenges, according to the document.
Gust said the division's holistic approach to environmental compliance, in addition to their internal inspection program and directives, helped them win the award.
When the division encounters a deficiency in one program, personnel look at the division's other programs to see if there are similar problems elsewhere, Gust said.
"Then we ask ourselves, 'OK, was somebody not trained? Did they not have the right equipment? Was the equipment failing?' And so on and so forth until we figure out what we can do to manage all the programs holistically," Gust said.
Brown said the garrison will undergo a major external audit April 15 through 19, and he encourages personnel who have any questions about their environmental responsibilities and applicable environmental regulations to contact the division.
"The biggest thing is making sure that people know what the rules are, so they know how to follow them, so they don't break them," Brown said.
In addition, however, Brown said he wants garrison personnel to contact the division any time they have a question about environmental regulations or compliance.
"That's what we're here for," Brown said.
Gust and Brown said they also want members of the community to know the division's personnel do their best to allow projects to go forward, but they must always follow the rules.
"We want to help try to find a way to do what you need to do, without breaking the rules," Gust said. "We don't just want to say, 'No you can't do that.' That will leave you with bigger problems."
Contact the Environmental Division at DSN (315) 236-3131 or 011-81-46-407-3131 from overseas.