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36th CES initiates airfield spill response kits to help environment

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Alexa Ann Henderson
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
The 36th Civil Engineer Squadron implemented airfield spill response kits on the flightline early July at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

The 7-foot tall boxes are white with a bat emblem on the side. The bat is the new 36th CES Environmental Flight symbol, a way to recognize the federally threatened Mariana fruit bat that is native to the island and to bring about overall environmental awareness.

There are currently five kits located on the flightline with a plan to expand the set to twenty boxes total, said Thomas Spriggs, 36th CES Environmental Flight director.

"When I first came on board, we had a flurry of fuel spills that occurred within a very short time period," Spriggs said. "They were small, but we were constantly in response mode. I began to think 'Why don't we have something more centrally located?'"

He said these situations led to the idea to create accessible kits to help curb fuel spillages and help aircrews respond immediately while they wait for dedicated response teams to arrive. The kits were made to help save time, money and the environment by giving the first responders, who are usually the aircrew, the materials they need to stop a spill from expanding, to keep the spill contained, and also save money by limiting the need to replace the asphalt in the contained, affected area only.

Each kit contains a 55-gallon barrel used to catch and contain ongoing spills or contain waste, protective suits, gloves, a shovel, absorbent pads and granular absorbent material. Each unit weighs approximately 4,000 pounds to help them withstand typhoon-strength winds.

The response kits took a lot of thought and innovation to compile on the team's part, said 2nd Lt. Cari Gandy, 36th CES environmental engineer and spill response kit project manager. There were no major costs to the kits because they used mostly recycled materials already available.

It costs an average of $35,000 to replace asphalt after a spill in just a 100 square foot area.

While the environmental flight did a lot of work getting the idea off the ground, they weren't the only group involved in the final implementation. The maintenance crews contributed to the brainstorming since they are generally the first responders, and members from the operations group helped to get the kits out to the flightline.

"From the operations perspective, we are spending millions of dollars every year fixing damage to the runway and the taxiways ... and having something this simple to keep the spill contained could save a lot of resources and money," said Lt. Col. Kevin Kippie, 36th OSS commander.  "This is a really good example of the 36th Operations Support Squadron, maintenance and (civil engineer) Airmen coming together to solve a common problem."

All of the groups involved with the implementation hope their solution may continue to make a difference in the world.

"This is not just an environmental issue, it's an economic issue," Kippie said. "We'd like to see this solution implemented across Pacific Air Forces and eventually throughout the Air Force."