Military and civilian leaders joined Brig. Gen. Darren Werner, director of sustainment for III Corps, and Brian Dosa, director of Public Works, for an environmental quality control committee meeting Dec. 10 at the 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division motor pool to discuss upcoming hazardous waste management changes that will impact every military footprint on the installation. 

“We meet once a quarter so that we can be a learning organization, get better, share information and stay out of jail without having to pay large fines,” Dosa said.

The meeting guided military personnel and civilians through discussions about new practices that will be implemented beginning this month to ensure compliance with federal and state regulations.

“Over the next few months, we are going to make an effort across Fort Hood to get to this standard,” Werner said. “We are going to get the right set ups in all the motor pools and we are going to have people come by and help make sure it’s right to get where it needs to be.”

Previously, the waste generated at motor pools was considered a used product. Soldiers collected and stored used products in a used product reclamation point building and then would turn-in these items to the DPW Classification Unit where environmental staff would characterize it is as hazardous, non-hazardous or universal waste.

But in the spring 2019, the Environmental Protection Agency determined materials had to be classified at the point of generation, wherever that may be.

“This is to make sure we are doing the right thing and being the best stewards of resources here at Fort Hood,” Col. Jason Wesbrock, commander of U.S. Army Garrison – Fort Hood, said. “The chain of command’s understanding of what’s required and how to do it is critically important so we can move forward to meet our regulatory requirements.”

Pointing to 55 gallon drums and small containers, Riki Young, chief of the environmental management branch, DPW, explained changes for managing hazardous, universal and non-hazardous waste.

Aerosol cans, the most common hazardous waste, will be collected in 55 gallon drums. When the drum is 75% full, the unit will need to schedule a turn in to the CU.

However, the rules for universal waste items like lamps, rechargeable batteries and paint and paint-related items are different. There is no limit on the volume for universal waste, but the label must be dated when the first item is placed in the container and turned in to the CU within six months from that start date.

And non-hazardous waste, like sweepable absorbents or used rags and pads, do not have a time limit or volume limit.

“It will be a process to make these changes at 250 locations,” Young said.

He added, “Our staff will come to your site, set up the containers and will work with you and your Environmental Compliance Officer on how to manage each waste.”

“What you are going to see is the beginning of what right looks like,” Wesbrock said.

“There will be some evolution, once the EPA comes down and continues to check and see how things are going.”

DPW Environmental will be investing over $500,000 in supplies to provide each motor pool and hangar footprint with the proper drums, lids, labels and tags.

“We will set you up with an initial allocation of drums and lids – everything that you need,” Young said. “But if you lose them or you break them, it will be on the unit to replace them.”

Dosa concluded the meeting emphasizing motor pools are the first line of defense for reaching environmental compliance and explained his three keys to success in the motor pools.

“First, this is a commander’s program and leader involvement is critical. Second, make sure that you have an Environmental Compliance Officer that is appointed and trained,” Dosa said. “And third, know your Environmental Compliance Assessment Team member and leverage them for success.”

Werner added leadership involvement is essential for complying and standardizing the new hazardous waste management changes.

“We, as leaders, have to be the ones that are enforcing it and getting it there, take care of the business and have discipline in what we do,” he said. “This is a great leader’s opportunity to give your Soldiers and officers an opportunity to get the program started and then show appreciation to them for meeting and maintaining the standard.”