Nellis Environmental Management Success|
by Nesley Orochena
99th Civil Engineer Squadron
12/6/2011 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- The Air Combat Command has guided its installations to implement Environmental Management System framework for the past decade.
The 99th Air Base Wing EMS, which affects Nellis Air Force Base, Creech AFB, and the Nevada Test and Training Range, is a model of environmental stewardship, which combines regulatory compliance with initiatives promoting sustainability. As a mature system, it leads to improved environmental protocols, thus minimizing the probability of regulatory findings. It also improves profitability through cost reductions in energy, solid waste and hazardous waste while generating proceeds from recycling.
The environmental vision for the 99 ABW, which was put into effect Sept. 17, 2011, is the cornerstone of the entire EMS structure, consisting of the plan-do-check-act model of improvement. This vision states:
"We, Nellis AFB, Creech AFB, and the Nevada Test and Training Range are stewards of the environment. We will perform our duties following the legal requirements while preventing pollution and continually improving our environmental programs. The Environmental Management System Cross Functional Team, subcommittees, and other working groups will provide the driving force to achieve our environmental goals and targets."
The Air Force adopted the International Organization for Standardization 14001, Environmental Management standard, as the official framework for its environmental programs that resembles the PDCA model.
The 99th Civil Engineer Squadron Environmental Section identifies products, services and activities during the planning phase that could have an impact on the environment. Evaluation of those aspects allows engineers, with the assistance of shop personnel, to improve protocols within the environmental programs.
The doing phase consists of implementing the operational controls and methods identified in the planning phase. The Environmental Section depends on shop personnel to perform their duties within the operational controls explained. These controls are described, but not limited, in management plans, Air Force Instructions and Code of Federal Regulations.
The checking phase includes inspections by a visiting group of assessors who tour shops throughout the base to conduct the Tier II Environmental, Safety, and Occupational Health Compliance Assessment and Management Program. The final Tier II ESOHCAMP reports record the compliance and conformity of each shop with respect to the established regulations and laws.
The final phase, acting, consists of senior leadership conducting an Environmental, Safety and Occupational Health Council meeting, reviewing overall performance, mandating continuation or modifications and setting the tone for the future.
The results of the PDCA process at Nellis are impressive. Despite the fact that the scope of EMS has significantly grown to accommodate the installation's mission, the two key rates, solid waste diversion and hazardous waste reduction, have exceeded the goals set by executive orders.
Solid waste diversion consists of industrial recycling of materials such as recycled oils, office recyclables, laser printer toner cartridges, cardboard, empty metal cans, drained fuel metal filters, batteries, used antifreeze, spent or unwanted aerosol cans and recycled construction debris. This particular recycling effort has diverted half of the total solid waste created on the installation and continually saves the base thousands of dollars on an annual basis.
Hazardous waste generation at an Air Force base is unavoidable. During the previous decade, the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have conducted more than 50 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act compliance evaluation inspections. The inspectors found no violations and hailed Nellis' hazardous waste program as a model program in southern Nevada. In addition, Nellis continues to reduce the waste generated. The reduction of hazardous waste has saved the base more than 180,000 dollars in disposal cost in 2010, compared to the hazardous waste generated in 1992.