Editor’s Note: During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Compliance Assessment Team (ECAT) members continue to provide environmental compliance support via windshield site visits of accessible unit areas to ensure Fort Carson maintains a high level of compliance.
FORT CARSON, Colo. — The Directorate of Public Works (DPW) ECAT does more than evaluate military units and civilian activities for environmental compliance, it stands ready to assist, guide and teach the proper ways to store, label and dispose of all products and materials used on post.
The ECAT is not affiliated or managed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or any other environmental regulatory organization. Although the ECAT members collaborate with the EPA and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) in advance of inspections and adhere to their standards, the team works for Fort Carson.
There are two primary functions of the ECAT: education and assessments. Team members provide various types of environmental training, including general environmental awareness, the Environmental Protection Officer (EPO) Course and the satellite accumulation area training. The team members assess all high, medium and low risk facilities to ensure Fort Carson is in compliance with all federal, state and local environmental regulations.
“We assign our ECAT members to each unit and activity on post to assist in ensuring success,” said Carlos Rivero-deAguilar, chief of the DPW Environmental Division. “The EPOs having one-on-one support from their ECAT member helps units accomplish their mission in an environmentally sound manner while Fort Carson stays in compliance with applicable laws.”
A unit or organization’s interaction with the ECAT depends on the types of activities they perform. People who work in an administrative building see their assigned ECAT member only once a year; however, people working in motor pools will see them in their area at least once a month. Their attention is focused on areas most likely to have an impact on the environment, such as spills, hazardous material management and hazardous material storage.
A routine ECAT assessment visit involves a member of the ECAT walking through an area accompanied by a unit or organization EPO. A standardized checklist is used to ensure all areas of regulatory concern are identified. Some areas that are looked at include material storage areas, bulk fuel storage, wash racks, recycling and solid waste collection areas, used oil and antifreeze storage tanks, among other things.
The most common finding during ECAT visits is material spills, including oil, antifreeze and other common maintenance products. Container labeling is also an issue. A container must be labeled with what is in it, which avoids mixing incompatible materials that can result in generating a hazardous waste.
Each individual who completes the DPW EPO Course is provided an Environmental Battle Book (also available online at https://www.carson.army.mil/organizations/dpw.html) to assist the units with guidance on how to properly manage common products on Fort Carson. The book is a quick reference for the most common environmental concerns units and other organizations on Fort Carson face daily. The battle book covers such topics as used oil; recycling; management of material; and handling procedures for aerosol cans, paint, batteries, tires, etc. Used properly, the Environmental Battle Book will enhance and support the warfighter, enable mission success and preserve the limited training resources currently available to Fort Carson.
Of equal importance, following battle book procedures assists Soldiers and civilians in regulated facilities to avoid violations from regulatory agencies such as the EPA and CDPHE, which can easily amount to heavy fines and possible criminal charges. Fines of up to $72,115 can be assessed per day, per violation to the unit or responsible party.
The ECAT is here to help. If a unit or organization on post has an environmental question, or isn’t sure how to proceed in a particular situation, they can call their assigned ECAT member.
For more information about the support the ECAT provides or which member is assigned to a military unit or civilian organization, call the DPW Environmental Division ECAT lead at 524-3534. For information about the EPO Course dates and how to register, call 526-8893.