by Tech. Sgt. Phillip Butterfield
35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
10/25/2012 - MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Like
most large industrial areas, Misawa Air Base produces hazardous waste
as a byproduct of its daily activities. Some of the waste produced
includes used oil, lead acid batteries and paint. But, where does it all
Thankfully, the base has an area setup to handle and store hazardous
waste; keeping it from polluting the environment and helping people and
the base save money.
The hazardous waste storage area, located on main base, operates in a
hub and spoke fashion, with approximately 40 waste collection points
feeding the storage area.
"It's important to handle hazardous waste correctly so it doesn't get
out into the environment," said Senior Airman Bryan Alvarado, 35th
Logistics Readiness Squadron Vehicle Maintenance Support Section
technician. "Plus, you need to be trained to handle hazardous materials,
not everyone can do it."
In fiscal year 2012, the hazardous waste storage area collected or had
brought to them more than 77,000 tons of hazardous waste. This waste was
then transferred off base helping to keep the environment free from
However, keeping hazardous waste under control and the environment clean
isn't the only activity that takes place at the area. The hazardous
waste storage area saves the base money by using local contractors for
waste disposal and saves people money by operating a free issue and turn
in supply point.
"Last year we used local contractors to get rid of our waste oil and
fuel and only spent 6,000 Yen," said Koji Takayama, hazardous waste
storage area site manager. "Normally, we would have the Defense
Logistics Agency here hire a contractor to come and get these fluids at
20 Yen a pound and when you have 105 tons it can get expensive."
Moreover, the real money saving treasure isn't the use of local
contractors, it's the free issue. Free issue is a section of the
hazardous waste storage area where people can bring their unwanted
household cleaners, car care products or bottled gases in for free. Then
it gets sorted and people can come in and take whatever they want for
"This is a win-win," said Takayama. "We save the environment by using up
chemicals and not just throwing them away, and if we have what you are
looking for you can have it for free."