Pamela L. Davis, an environmental manager with the environmental section, United States Forces-Iraq engineers, and Capt. William N. Muthiora, deputy mayor, East Camp Liberty, 116th Garrison Command, United States Division-Center, point out areas of environmental concern and discuss the results from the day’s surveys at Camp Liberty, May 16. Environmental managers work closely with the different base mayors’ offices in order to track the progress of the different sites located in their areas of responsibility. Photo by Sgt. TJ Moller
The task of surveying and clearing sites which were used by more than 160,000 U.S. service members during the height of the Iraq conflict, falls on the shoulders of 12 United States Forces-Iraq environmental managers.
Environmental managers conduct surveys to identify environmental areas of concern and ensure the environment is properly maintained as U.S. forces turn more bases over to the government of Iraq, the U.S. Department of State and Office of Security Cooperation – Iraq.
Surveying sites and ensuring that the U.S. military’s presence has minimal impact on the environment is one of the main goals of the mission, said Pamela L. Davis, an environmental manager with the environmental section, USF-I engineers.
“These professionals bridge the gap between the USF-I environmental section and the divisions and bases,” said Lt. Col. Bryce J. Taggart, deputy chief for basing, facilities and environment, USF-I engineers. “Without their expertise and presence at the divisions or bases we could not do the environmental assessments that lead to the clean closure of bases.”
As troop presence decreases, environmental base closure surveys are being conducted to ensure the designated environmental compliance officer of each site – military and civilian – is complying with the environmental policies established by USF-I and are taking steps to prepare for the turnover.
There are many areas addressed during the surveys, said James A. Terrell, an environmental manager assigned to support United States Division-Center. Areas such as fuel points and hazardous waste accumulation points are looked at closely due to the possibility of spills.
Along with conducting surveys, environmental managers also offer guidance to the environmental compliance officers on regulated waste turn-in procedures. They work closely with the base mayors offices in order to track cleanup progress at bases located in their area of responsibility.
Each site must undergo a minimum of three surveys before it can be cleared for release, said Davis. Initial, preliminary and final surveys are required and additional preliminary surveys are done if needed.
If deficiencies are found during a site survey, the environmental compliance officer and environmental manager must come up with a corrective action plan, said Davis. This plan will include a brief description of the work that needs to be done, an estimated schedule for the start and completion, the resources required and the cost associated with the project.
Documenting the condition of the environment and ensuring that environmental policies are being followed during military operations is a large task.
“It’s the responsible thing to do,” said Taggart. “Returning the bases and property used by U.S. forces to the government of Iraq in a clean and usable condition is our goal.”
“We are trying to hand over clean, safe facilities that the Iraqis can use,” said Terrell. “The bases are in good shape and there should not be any problems closing them.”
Story by Sgt. TJ Moller