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News | May 15, 2017

Environmental Management System Identifies, Manages Liabilities

By Donna Cipolloni, NAS Patuxent River Public Afairs NAS Patuxent River

By definition, the Environmental Management System (EMS) provides the Navy's framework for day-to-day decision making and long term planning processes to support mission readiness and regulatory compliance.

The effective use of resources to prevent pollution, reduce energy consumption, conserve resources, and reduce hazardous waste and solid waste generation.

"It's a tool we use to identify environmental liabilities and mitigate those liabilities to ensure they don't become issues," said Justin Barlow, EMS program manager at NAS Patuxent River. "It also ensures that we stay in compliance with all federal, state and local laws and regulations. In addition, that applicable presidential executive orders and Navy policies are being addressed. EMS ensures that we're tracking those and ensuring the required actions are being completed and documented."

While a number of potential liabilities - known as "significant environmental aspects" - have been identified aboard the installation, Pax River's top-ranking environmental aspect is storm water management.

"At first, you might think it would be refueling," Barlow said. "But there are already so many procedures and policies in place to control refueling as well as secondary containment procedures if there is a spill, it's why that particular aspect is not our most significant."

Barlow explained that every person and activity at Pax poses an issue to the stormwater program in a variety of ways, such as cars leaking oil on the road, runoff from construction job worksites, building generators with tanks that hold fuel, improper storage of materials, or even disposing of trash incorrectly.

"Sometimes you'll see where people have piled metal or other debris outside a dumpster which, when exposed to the weather, can leach metals into stormwater," Barlow noted. "Or if trash is not disposed of properly, it can get lodged in storm drains. There's so much of it outside our control."

As EMS Program Manager, it's Barlow's job to educate all commands and organizations about potential environmental liabilities and request that all personnel complete two required training modules: EMS General Awareness Training, and Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan Management General Awareness Training; and he offers a lot of assistance with that process.

"We'll vet these activities, which means we'll go to a command or organization and explain the EMS process," he said. "We'll conduct an environmental liability survey on their buildings - not to cite them for anything wrong - just to identify their liabilities, like hazardous material storage or hazardous waste generation, for example. If they do need to improve, we'll let them know so they can get going in the right direction."

Each environmental program has its own set of standard operating procedures (SOPs). Each SOP provides specific guidelines covering the proper management of the activity's identified environmental liabilities, and Barlow can provide direction on how to develop Read and Sign Manuals specific to each activity. Each manual contains the relevant SOPs, a copy of Pax River's environmental policy statement and the Supervisor's Pocket Guide. The pocket guide is a quick-reference guide that helps activities find what is needed if something happens and who they should contact.

"The development of each supervisor's Read and Sign Manual is part of the vetting process," Barlow added. "Each command shall designate an EMS representative in writing, per NASPAXRIVINST 5090.1B so environmental knows who to coordinate with as requirements change and corrective actions are identified."

Navy Research Laboratory's Scientific Development Squadron (VXS) 1 - the Warlocks - was the first tenant command aboard Pax River to be fully vetted and 100 percent compliant, which means every one of their personnel has completed the required EMS training.

"It's the Warlock Way; we look at every mission or task as an opportunity for excellence," said Chief Logistics Specialist Shelton Thomas, material control officer and EMS representative for VXS-1. "We were provided the template and direction for the EMS program, and Justin provided the PowerPoints and other resources required for us to complete the training. The entire process took approximately 20 months from start to finish."

VXS-1 used a number of methods to spread the word and complete the training: Quarters, work center training days, required reading boards, maintenance morning and evening meetings, and by the assignment of Aviation Electrician's Mate 2nd Class Mackenzie Schweiger as an EMS Training Petty Officer to disseminate the information to the squadron. The VXS-1 commanding officer also allowed for continuous EMS training while personnel were deployed.

"Implementation, maintenance and continual improvement of an EMS are required for all Navy appropriate facilities worldwide," Barlow stated. "Every building, activity and organization at the Pax River Complex should have an EMS program. Larger commands can have training done via PowerPoint or I'm willing to do training at a safety stand down, or conduct several group trainings over a period of time. People just have to let me know." 

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