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‘We’re Really Not The Bad Guys’

  • Published
  • By Maj. Scot Berrian
  • 43rd Civil Engineer Squadron Commander
"Here they come again." "Don't they know that we have real work to do," and "Quick, let's just hide everything." These are just some of the phrases that I've heard as I've travelled around the base following the Environmental Flight's announcement that --"It's time for the external EOHCAMP!" 

EOHCAMP stands for the Environmental and Occupational Health Compliance Assessment and Management Program. Wow, that's a mouthful! It used to be called the Environmental Compliance Assessment and Management Program (ECAMP), then the Environmental, Safety and Occupational Health Compliance Assessment and Management Program. Just like many other programs, it has changed names several times over the last two decades. 

It's been interesting to observe the activity throughout my own organization in preparing for this event. Over the past few weeks pre-assessment teams have made their way through numerous CE shops looking for non-compliance issues. 

They've been pretty thorough in checking those hiding places, and have even gone through administrative offices. It's been quite a learning experience for me and I appreciate the effort they're making. 

The team hasn't stopped with CE. They've been assessing all other organizations on base and have an extensive list of findings. Files are being screened, plans and permits reviewed, material labels checked for completeness, hazardous waste storage times checked and all of the 'extra' items that have somehow found their way into the work place over the last three years, which would not have been in compliance, are disappearing. The team isn't on a "witch hunt," they're not there to point fingers; their goal is to help personnel become educated on how to do their job, yet at the same time act as good environmental stewards. 

It appears that over time, a negative label has been attached to the base environmental office as a whole. I think that label is attached to environmental offices at all Air Force installations. 

As I look into the reason why that is, I've heard comments such as, "Environmental folks just hinder our ability to get the job done" or "We were headed in one direction with this project and when the Environmental Office heard about it, they caused us to go in another direction." In their defense, environmental personnel are really not the bad guys. 

There are federal, state and local environmental laws that are not only imposed upon the government installations, but private sector as well and it is the job of environmental folks to ensure that the installation as a whole is in compliance. The measurement of that compliance is accomplished through the use of tools such as EOHCAMP. 

Environmental compliance, pollution prevention and conservation requirements should be woven into our day-to-day activities. We need to be good environmental stewards regardless of the job we're assigned. It shouldn't be a one time event. 

The goal we would like to achieve when this EOHCAMP is complete is to have "no major findings." That means that we've not only done our job, but have done it with a consciousness of having protected the environment. That's a good report card for any base and that report card, by the way, is available for any state or federal regulator to see.
The EOHCAMP inspection is scheduled for Aug. 11 to 15. The individuals coming are not only from AMC but also include other Air Force representatives and contractors. They're technical experts in their fields, so if your shop is being assessed, don't run the other way; look at it as a learning opportunity. 

We continue to face the challenge of meeting mission requirements here at Pope with ongoing deployments reduced available manpower. We need to 'get the job done' nonetheless and in a way that ensures the protection of our environment. Let's do it together, Team Pope, with the ongoing pride and high degree of professionalism we're known for!