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ECAMP assessment singles out 9 terrific performers

by Nick Stubbs
Thunderbolt staff writer

With another successful Environmental Compliance Assessment and Management survey complete, nine MacDill standouts were found to have gone above and beyond the call of duty to ensure the base is safe and in compliance with regulations.

Individuals and squadrons were awarded the special recognition for a range of accomplishments in the key areas of managing hazardous materials and waste or ensuring environmental standards measures were not only being met, but exceeded.

The primary purpose of the ECAMP is to find problem areas related to environmental regulations so they can be corrected before they become a problem with state and local officials. The assessment is done each year, with a team of base personnel conducting the survey in consecutive years, followed by an outside team coming in every three years. In addition to negative findings, the survey turns up positives, some of them warranting the special recognition presented to the nine this year.

Overall 207 serious and minor negative findings were made, along with 25 positives. In addition, 29 findings related to management practices in need of attention were made.

The overall minor and serious findings were higher than last year's total of 143 but there are some extenuating circumstances that lead to that, believes Jason Lichtenstein, ECAMP program manager.

"I think overall we did pretty well," said Mr. Lichtenstein. "There are some factors that make it appear the numbers are up, including the tenacity of the inspection team.”

He said this year's 35-member team was a "good one" and very methodical in scouting the base for compliance. In fact, the team found more issues this year than even the outside inspection team that came to MacDill two years ago, said Mr. Lichtenstein.

In addition, team members tended to break out findings to produce numbers higher than usual. Where as in the past a Flam Locker, or storage unit for flammable materials, might be cited once for a labeling problem and a faulty lock, this year members broke them out into separate findings, pushing overall numbers up.

Most of the findings where there were problems were related to personnel doing the wrong thing when they should have known better or personnel not adequately trained for their job, said Mr. Lichtenstein. In both cases, the War on Terrorism and frequent deployments is the root cause. People who knew their jobs well have been rotated out, leaving behind replacements who know less about their jobs.

"In short, it's the war," said Mr. Lichtenstein. "It's just one of the realities we're dealing with."

In fact, deployments even led to problems pulling together the inspection team itself, he said. Many team members were found to be gone when it came time to begin the assessment process. Replacements had to be found.

Mr. Lichtenstein said the results of the assessment are now being entered into a database and commanders have been briefed. The next step will be processing corrective action plans submitted by all the commanders and the coming year will be used to "close" negative findings by correcting problems one by one.

While there is much work to do, Mr. Lichtenstein said he was encouraged to see many of last year's negative findings have been cleared up, the exception being some which require funding not available. Examples are lack of money for backflow prevention devices that prevent flood or ground water from backing up into the water supply or for a phone system at the 90-day storage facility, which by regulations should have a phone available 24 hours a day.

Most of the issues that must be dealt with are related to hazardous waste and materials storage and disposal but the survey encompasses and wide range of areas, including even the quality of cultural resources, such as the preservation of historic buildings and the quality of natural resources like the beaches.

Mr. Lichtenstein said nearly every squadron has materials issues, as it is rare not to have hazardous or flammable materials around. He added that more than any area, storage of active or waste materials and their proper disposal were singled out for failing to meet standards.

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