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185th Environmental Management Office

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Wendy S. Ohl
  • 185ARW/PA
The 185th Air Refueling Wing (ARW) Environmental Management Office (EM) sits discreetly in the corner of the Composite Support Building on the edge of base. Lt. Col. Robert Santee, Environmental Manager, works with the day-to-day environmental program activities for the 185th. This can be anything from developing and tracking the environmental budget to implementing programs for training and resource management to running a base-wide paper recycling initiative. Mr. Kevin Jacobson, Environmental Specialist, provides assistance to Santee in promoting environmental stewardship and compliance by the base population.

The job of the EM is primarily behind the scenes. Not much of what they do is something the base sees as a tangible product. EM deals with federal and state government compliance issues regarding pollution, environmental cleanup, waste disposal, hazardous materials handling and disposal, air and water quality, recycling programs, and much more. If the EM continues to work with and complete environmental projects, the office tends to remain rather transparent, which is just fine with LTC Santee and Mr. Jacobson.

"We're happy to remain anonymous in managing the various programs that are assigned to EM. But we can't do what we do without the assistance and cooperation of industrial shop personnel and other supporting sections like Bioenvironmental Engineering, Safety, Hazmart-Pharmacy, CE, FM, etc." said Santee.

Jacobson adds, "The 185th is a great organization, with dedicated professionals striving to ensure that every program on base effectively supports the flying mission."

In the past year, EM has worked diligently to organize and assist in developing mandatory training for base personnel who are exposed to hazardous materials and wastes, potential releases of these hazardous substances, and how to respond to and manage the releases so they aren't introduced to the base's sanitary and storm water drainage systems. The training took place last November.

2008 marks a milestone in environmental cleanup, taking nearly 20 years to complete. This summer, EM will coordinate removal of the last monitoring wells that were installed to evaluate the effectiveness of remediating fuel contamination in underground soil and ground water that occurred many years ago. The Air National Guard's Environmental Restoration Program is a nationwide effort to identify and resolve environmental impacts that have resulted from past practices or accidents on our installations. These practices occurred years ago, when we had limited knowledge of the environmental consequences associated with accidental spills or routine disposal of waste oils, cleaning solutions, fuels, and other substances. The 185th now joins a small list of bases that have successfully finished their part in making the area's environment a safer and cleaner place to work.

In addition, they are working on updating the base's spill prevention and response plan and hazardous waste management plan so the two documents are current for the UCI in September.