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NEWS | Sept. 9, 2008

Wing preps for ORI; HAZMAT primed to help base agencies succeed

By Thomas Warner Staff writer

Preparing for an Operational Readiness Inspection requires planning and direct action from many units and departments on base. 

The Randolph 2008 ORI will take place in November, but a lot of work has been ongoing during the past calendar year to make sure Team Randolph has an opportunity to earn the highest grade: "Outstanding." 

"It's time to stop briefing it and to start the actual process of doing it and doing it well," said Maj. Chris Kaufman, 12th Flying Training Wing Inspector General operations chief. 

The readiness inspection will provide an evaluation of the wing's ability to manage programs such as medical qualifications for deployment, force protection, recall procedures, self-aid and buddy care, wingman responsibilities, gate entry procedures, media relations and numerous other areas. 

One subject area of high visibility is hazardous materials. 

"Interestingly, from an environmental perspective, the ORI does not look at us directly," said Robin Armhold, 12th Mission Support Group Civil Engineering Natural Resources Element Chief. "Ninety-nine percent of our ORI preparation is assisting other people in preparing. Our goal is to help other units and other areas succeed during the ORI." 

With so many shops around the base using hazardous materials on a daily basis, there are strict regulations governing the usage, collection and disposal of those elements. A contractor from base civil engineering has made visits to more than 100 shops around Randolph to talk with supervisors there and give advice on HAZMAT procedures. 

"The contractors have had good working relationships with the people they've interacted with on these visits and there haven't been negative ramifications," Ms. Armhold said. "We provide a means for everyone else to ensure they are storing and disposing of their hazardous materials correctly." 

An annual environmental assessment is done internally by base civil engineering to examine all procedures carried out here by staff who deal with HAZMAT. 

Incidentally, an external assessment of HAZMAT is performed by Air Education and Training Command every three years. This happens to be the third year in the cycle and Ms. Armhold said the audit, called the Environmental Safety and Occupational Health Compliance Assessment, or ESOHCAMP, is scheduled for late November on the heels of the ORI. 

Glen Williams, 12th Maintenance Division unit environmental coordinator, oversees environmental issues within the maintenance program at Randolph. He said paints, hydraulic fluids, engine oils and cleaning agents are a few of the many substances with the potential to cause problems. 

"All materials are not hazardous, but there are quite a few seen on this base that are," Mr. Williams said. "They have to be managed according to federal regulations within the state of Texas and there is a timeline to dispose of them. We have to be concerned with state and federal regulators coming in at any time, with no notice." 

A hazardous waste accumulation site is located at Bldg. 37 on Randolph. There is a constant flow of items being transported to the site. 

"On this base, the biggest hazardous waste materials we see are paint-related," said Erik Christianson, hazardous waste manager. "We usually fill one 300-gallon drum every two months. We also use other containers to dispose of paint thinners, paint strippers, rags and other items. The waste we collect is then sent off base for disposal."

Mr. Christianson said preparations by his shop involve proper labeling of containers and accurate manifest documentation listing all items collected from various shops on base. 

Other products and operations at Randolph that involve hazardous materials include aircraft engines, ejection seats, and metal welding and fabrication.

Ms. Armhold said the main point to keep in mind is for people to not wait until Oct. 31 to turn in hazardous materials. They should complete the necessary disposal well ahead of the ORI to ensure the entire process remains easy and speedy for all.