By Spc. Junie Escarment, 3rd AAB UPAR, 1st Cav. Div.April 12, 2011
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq - Troopers with Charlie Medical Company (CMC), 215th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division scheduled the month of April to focus on preventing injury and illness by educating Soldiers on hazardous materials used in day to day operations.
Spc. Wei Ni, of preventive medicine, from Lancaster, S.C., completed the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) training. The HAZWOPER course is a national certification class that teaches individuals like Spc. Ni, 3rd AAB's only preventive medicine pecialist, the rules and regulations of dealing with HAZMAT waste and how to respond in an emergency situation.
The course encompasses five different areas dealing with HAZMAT to include emergency response to spills, clean-up operations required once a spill has occurred, and corrective actions to prevent a future spill from occurring.
"The greatest (environmental) concern in our brigade in which we must continue to focus on is the motor pool fluids," said Ni. "A simple spill of a fluid used to keep vehicles in working condition can equate to a bigger problem if the proper steps are not taken to keep the spill under control."
Another important area of focus on Contingency Operating Base Adder is the water plant, where chlorine is used to purify the drinking water supply. The in-ground water and sewage system can potentially become a threat due to the confined space workers are put into when going underground to correct problems. The levels of hazardous materials can be fairly high depending on the problem being repaired.
Understanding the potential risk these materials may cause, and taking precaution to use them properly, is the most important step to preventing unnecessary HAZMAT related injuries.