By Rita Hess (USAEC Contractor)April 4, 2019
The 7,200 soldiers of the Wisconsin Army National Guard (WIARNG) rely on the state's industrial installation to provide the highest quality maintenance and rehabilitation of the vehicles, aircraft, and equipment that drive training and readiness.
The installation, encompassing 10 field maintenance shops, two Army aviation support facilities, a combined support maintenance shop, and a maneuver area training equipment site, manage thousands of vehicles and equipment supporting 99 Wisconsin units.
To ensure the WIARNG an uninterrupted mission, the environmental office established a proactive environmental quality (EQ) program. The EQ program has clear action-oriented goals to minimize liability and risk of environmental impact while enhancing organizational effectiveness.
Thanks to those efforts, there have been no notices of violation at any of the WIARNG industrial facilities in more than a decade.
An extensive training program also helps ensure best practices and compliance in all shops. Efforts were successful enough to earn them a 2019 Secretary of the Army environmental award for environmental quality in an industrial installation.
"In FY17 and FY18, the EQ program achieved several milestones for the industrial installation," said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Fred Gallatin, the Wisconsin Army National Guard's environmental program manager.
"They began replacing old fuel systems and underground storage tanks--specifically, tanks near the end of their 30-year lifecycle--with new underground or above ground tanks," he said.
Additionally, all 15 fueling systems' tank monitoring panels needed new systems linked into the federal network for efficient management and real-time tracking. Six panels were upgraded in 2017, three in 2018, and three more identified for 2019; the remainder will follow.
The EQ program's effectiveness is enhanced by the WIARNG's involvement with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) Green Tier Program, resulting in a single WDNR point of contact to oversee all regulatory compliance. This is the most valuable stakeholder relationship to date.
The individual helps support internal processes, particularly achievement of Environmental Management System (eMS) goals and Environmental Performance Assessment System excellence.
The EQ program is achieving excellent results. A wastewater discharge compliance study of all seven industrial installation facilities is underway to evaluate WIARNG's compliance.
Drain locations and systems are being mapped at all facilities for incorporation into a GIS platform. A statewide air compliance assessment and air emissions inventory also ensured regulatory compliance.
Spill plans and handbooks are continually updated. In fact, updating the spill prevention plan in-house the past two years occurred at a significant cost savings by licensing and/or certifying EQ staff to complete site inspections, site evaluations, and assessments.
The environmental office staff works hard to clearly link the EQ program and the WIARNG mission. They conducted the first mobile refueler training for M-Day soldiers during annual training, and another training session was conducted during weekend drill. The hands-on portion was conducted jointly with top aviation fuelers in the state and with environmental staff to demonstrate spill control response.
The Environmental Performance Assessment System program for the industrial installation provides the tools to identify environmental shortfalls and provide solutions. EQ staff completes internal audits annually on at least 25 percent of the WIARNG's total facilities.
Other building audits are done rotationally. A 2017 external audit of eMS and environmental compliance documented only minor findings.
The EQ program targets waste reduction, waste diversion, and recycling. The WIARNG contracts with a vendor that picks up and disposes of hazardous waste.
Uniquely, those that meet certain characteristics are blended and burned for energy recovery in cement kilns. In 2017, the industrial installation recaptured and fuel blended 1,053 pounds of hazardous waste.
The industrial shops use a vendor to extract oils from absorbents, after which the absorbents return to the shop for use in new products. A vendor also recycles antifreeze for the WIARNG industrial installation.
Due to deployments, recycled antifreeze volumes are low. Still, about 900 gallons of recycled antifreeze was purchased at a cost of only $3,641.
Within the broader WIARNG operations, more conventional items are tracked for recycling, such as metals, tires, cardboard, used toner, and more. In 2017, 21,305 pounds of batteries were recycled, along with 2,965 pounds of light bulbs.
The industrial facilities also have WDNR permission to regulate LED military vehicle headlights as electronic waste.
Indeed, every element of the EQ program supports mission and readiness.
The in-house training program offers sessions on emergency responder, operations level training, and they made the custom online refresher program easier to use.
Further, to increase participation and effectiveness, they developed an online spill training module. It is on the WIARNG website, accessible to state and federal personnel that require operations level spill refresher training.
Not much seems to deter the EQ program staff. True to the state of Wisconsin, expect their efforts to continue moving the WIARNG FORWARD.