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HWRC: Fighting what you fear

9 Aug 2013 | Lance Cpl. Brendan Roethel

The Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort Hazardous Waste Recycle Center works to reduce the amount of hazardous material used and generated through life-cycle control, data management, and material authorizations. 

The HWRC is the first line of defense to ensure the proper cleaning and storage of hazardous materials. HWRC does this to ensure the environment remains clean and residents can stay healthy and safe by limiting exposure to hazardous chemicals. 

“We have to be very cautious about how we store and clean up hazardous materials,” said Corey Jackson, the environmental inspector with the hazardous waste for     MCAS Beaufort. “A single mistake can cause fires, groundwater contamination, and injuries to people and animals. Appropriate items for the collection include aircraft fuel spills, florescent light bulbs, automotive fluids, garden fertilizers and pesticides, and certain workshop or household products.” 

The greatest threat HWRC faces at the Air Station is fuel spills. 

“In the event of fuel spills we work closely with Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting to make sure the scene of the incident is safe and that all of the fuel is contained, picked up, and containerized,” said Jackson. “If fuels seep into the dirt we must remove the contaminated dirt so that we can prevent polluting the water table. If we don’t     do our jobs properly we risk jeopardizing the lives of those near us and future generations of Marines that get stationed here, plus we would do great amounts of damage to our environment.” 

When hazardous waste is contained employees of the HWRC containerize the contaminant then store the material. Hazardous materials are stored in 55-gallon plastic drums, or waste containers. 

“After containerizing it we either store it at our on base facility or give the containers to a storage facility out in town to be tracked through its life cycle,” said Jackson. “Hazardous materials only stay harmful for certain periods of time. At the end of this time period, the threat would be neutralized and     we can slowly integrate those materials back into the environment.” 

The hard work of the HWRC has given MCAS Beaufort the ability to further quantify hazardous material usage and waste reduction goals through more accurate and effective material and waste tracking. They have also helped reduce the amount of hazardous materials used and hazardous waste generated aboard the Air Station. 

“We couldn’t complete our mission without the help of the Air Station Marines we work to protect on a daily basis,” said Jackson. “They are the ones who call us and inform us of an issue and by doing that they begin the first of many steps needed to keep their fellow Marines healthy and safe.”