The U.S. Coast Guard recently turned to the Defense Logistics Agency property disposal team in Alaska to help clear hazardous waste accumulated during the pandemic.
Anchorage-based DLA Disposition Services Environmental Protection Specialist Scott Rankin traveled to Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Kodiak in late summer to help Coast Guard officials put their HW program back on track.
“Disposal of [Resource Conservation and Recovery Act-designated] hazardous waste has always been challenging in Alaska for our CG units since our operational missions are spread out across such a large coastal geographic area,” said Environmental Restoration Specialist Chris Rose, an expert with 35 years of experience on the hazardous waste mission in Alaska. “Many of the small communities we operate out of have limited disposal and recycling resources to assist our CG units when the need arises.”
Regional DLA disposal contracts provide its customers with a unique set of services, including management of sampling, packaging, labeling, draining, and cleaning services, and transport of waste to treatment, storage and disposal sites, typically located in the Lower 48.
Rankin spent multiple days at each site, providing personalized training and overseeing first receipts for each. He said the hazardous waste was primarily “routine” items like used petroleum products, lubricants, solvents and rags from Sitka and Ketchikan, and 150,000 lbs. of solid waste and wastewater generated during the re-commissioning of a USCG Air Station Kodiak hangar containing High Expansion Foam.
“After several Delivery Orders were issued and waste shipments scheduled, Scott followed up with site visits to ensure CG units had [contracting officer] representation during load outs and spent time becoming familiar with CG operations,” Rose said.
Rose said Coast Guard environmentalists in Alaska had successfully used DLA’s disposal contracts since the late 90s, but then came an extended pandemic shutdown in 2019. The operational pause was compounded by uniformed staff transfers and civilian retirements, and the introduction of new NDAA amendments affecting PFAS-related waste. It was essentially a perfect storm that knocked their process off track until they re-engaged with DLA.
“The type of one-on-one interaction and on-site services Scott has provided us has been valuable to bridging those [knowledge] gaps, and our people are sharpened by this interaction,” Rose said.
Rankin said he likes the culture and atmosphere of DLA, which he joined a year ago after two dozen years supporting other parts of DOD. The bulk of his hazardous waste collection responsibilities are local to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, but “getting out to see other parts of the state is cool. I’m eager to see what we can do to get other CG sites onboard and provide them services as well.”
Other potential supported Coast Guard sites include Valdez and Cordova, although similar contract familiarization and database access instruction needs remain.
The supported office, Coast Guard Civil Engineering Unit Juneau, provides engineering support from the Arctic Circle to the Aleutian Islands all the way down into Southeast Alaska. They provide the fleet with planning, design, contracting and construction of shore-unit projects for maintenance, repair and improvement, environmental restoration and compliance, and energy conservation.
“DLA is an invaluable resource that contributes to helping the CG maintain its operational readiness in coastal areas of Alaska,” Rose said.