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ASTM Provides Standards to Protect Deployed Military Personnel
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 August 2006 Feature

Paul Sonnenfeld is the environmental, health and safety manager for Chugach Industries, Inc.’s North Puget Sound Regional BOSC Project, located at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash. He chairs ASTM Subcommittee E50.05 on Environmental Risk Management, which includes the task group on military deployments.

For more information on the current status of standards related to military deployments, please contact the chair of Subcommittee E50.05, Paul Sonnenfeld (phone: 360/257-1342).

ASTM Provides Standards to Protect Deployed Military Personnel

ASTM International has developed a number of standards that help protect members of the uniformed services. These standards range from areas of obvious concern, such as protective clothing, aviation fuels, and lubricants to the less obvious issues of pollution prevention and environmental management.

ASTM has long sought input and participation from Department of Defense agencies and individual military departments in the standards development process. The DOD and military service departments have had a presence in subcommittees of Committee E50 on Environmental Assessment, specifically E50.03’s pollution prevention and environmental sustainability standard, E 1609, Guide for the Development and Implementation of a Pollution Prevention Program; E50.04’s risk-based corrective action standards (E 1739, Guide for Risk-Based Corrective Action Applied at Petroleum Release Sites; E 2081, Guide for Risk-Based Corrective Action; and E 2205, Guide for Risk-Based Corrective Action for Protection of Ecological Resources); as well as E 2091, Guide for Activity and Use Limitations, Including Institutional and Engineering Controls.

Recent Cooperative Efforts

During the past few years, Committee E50 has been working with the military service health surveillance centers on standards related to military deployments. In 2001, representatives of the U.S. Navy, Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps approached E50’s executive subcommittee with a request to develop a standard guide to address the requirements of the Presidential Review Directive #5, Planning for Health Preparedness for and Readjustment of the Military, Veterans, and Their Families after Future Deployments, concerning the need for base-camp assessments and environmental baseline surveys.

Following the release of PRD#5 in 1998, each of the branches of the uniformed services had developed unique procedures for conducting environmental health site assessments. The goal of the ASTM initiative was to develop a common framework on which all branches of the uniformed services could rely. As the coordinator for military departments involved in this ASTM activity, Stephen Sorgen, an environmental health scientist at the Navy Environmental Health Center, has kept stakeholders moving forward on ASTM standards to meet PRD#5. Sorgen states, “After PRD #5 was published, our combined military mission was clear, and we had to achieve our goal in a short period of time.”

This initiative was assigned to Subcommittee E50.05 on Environmental Risk Management. Working with representatives of the U.S. uniformed services and Canadian forces, the subcommittee prepared the first draft for ballot in fewer than 18 months. The interaction of the military services’ representatives with ASTM International members who are U.S. environmental professionals has been educational. An ASTM standard for offshore deployment situations is truly different from an E50 standard for U.S. commercial real estate transactions.

E 2318, Guide for Environmental Health Site Assessment Process for Military Deployments, was completed in December 2003, less than two years after its inception. The standard has since been used by forces deployed in Haiti, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.

In July 2004, the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine, the U.S. Navy Environmental Health Center and the U.S. Air Force Center for Operational Health returned to Committee E50 to request a standard for generating and evaluating the environmental data needed to prepare an environmental health site assessment for military deployments. The development of this standard practice was also assigned to Subcommittee E50.05. The author has worked very closely with the representatives of the U.S. Navy, Army and Air Force, and Canadian Forces, to expedite this new effort.

This draft standard — WK10894, Practice for Generation of Environmental Data Related to Environmental Health Site Assessments for Military Deployments, references several other ASTM standards, including E 1689, Guide for Conceptual Site Models; E 2081; and D 6051, Guide for Composite Sampling and Field Subsampling for Environmental Waste Management Activities. The draft identifies the types of data to be collected during the first two phases of the environmental health site assessment process. It also establishes minimum confidence limits for sampling and analysis, whether or not the presence of a chemical of concern represents an environmental health threat to deployed military personnel.

Zdenek Hejzlar, the working group leader, recalls that each military department explained in detail what they were doing before they came together to provide a uniform practice for deployment; each service had obvious pride of ownership over their own deployment operations and procedures. “What the military departments are doing together is to provide uniformly, through this draft ASTM standard, the best environmental assessment and protection that environmental professionals can offer our servicemen during a deployment operation,” Hejzlar notes. “These missions are complex and the hierarchy of choices must be attended to in real time, every day.”

Committee E50, working with the uniformed services, plans to develop additional standards related to environmental health site assessments for military deployments. ASTM salutes our armed forces and their commitment to the global environment and thanks them for their support and commitment to consensus-based standards development. Throughout the process, military service representatives to these efforts have demonstrated respect for environmental professionals internationally and a commitment to high standards that make sense for now and the future. //

 
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