Science and Technology News

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Saving money and the environment the hazardous way

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 go?

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 pollution.

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 free.

"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."

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