MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, SC -- Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort is paving the way for hazardous material control throughout the Corps with its new Joint Hazardous Materials Center, which officially opened its doors Nov. 30 in a ribbon-cutting ceremony here.
The building consolidates the contaminant programs of the various units aboard Fightertown, according to Wayne Donaldson, the Air Station deputy supply officer.
“It consolidated all the HazMat programs aboard the station,” Donaldson said. “Before now, each unit ran its own program. The new center provides total visibility. We can account for materials from when they arrive on the Air Station, to when each unit gets them, all the way to their disposal.”
Consolidating the programs into one location makes the Joint Hazardous Materials Center more efficient than the old system, according to Capt. A. J. Brooks, the Air Station supply officer.
“The primary reason to consolidate HazMat is to better support the fighting squadrons and tenant units aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort from a single location,” Brooks said. “We are also able to ensure better support to deployed units through the consolidated Joint HazMat Center.”
Control of the new center is divided between Station Supply and the Natural Resources Environmental Affairs Office, and is staffed by Marines, sailors, civilian Marines, and contracted personnel.
The center is a concept facility for the Marine Corps, according Gunnery Sgt. James Cainguitan, the staff non-commissioned officer in charge of the center.
“We are the first in the Corps to switch to a joint system,” Cainguitan said. “If it works here, other bases will switch to this system.”
If something classified as hazardous material comes aboard the base, it will first come to the Joint HazMat Center and then filter out to the individual squadrons, according to Donaldson.
“HazMat includes paints, oils, batteries, and cleaning solvents,” Cainguitan said. “Anything that is flammable or toxic is also classified as (a contaminant).”
Air Station personnel are not the only ones who benefit from the facilities services, according to Cainguitan.
“If anybody comes on the base, we support them,” Cainguitan said, “We’ll support visiting aircraft. We also have a program called free issue. If a unit returns unused materials, we can issue them to someone else. Once they are done, they bring it back to us for disposal.”
The new center will also have a positive environmental impact, according to Staff Sgt. William Whitaker, the environmental quality assurance chief.
“My job is pollution prevention,” Whitaker said. “I visit all the squadrons and make sure they follow all the HazMat regulations.”
Brigadier Gen. James Flock, assistant deputy commandant of facilities and services for Headquarters Marine Corps, cut the ribbon during the inaugural ceremony and was one of the first to take a tour of the facility.
Flock was impressed with the new facility after his tour.
“It’s a unique site,” Flock said. “I think that the people who developed it and those who maintain it have done a fabulous job.”