Hazardous Materials Control Center ramping up awareness

8 Jul 2010 | Lance Cpl. Jonathan G. Wright

With the advancement of technology comes greater demand for energy sources to power such innovation. From that, a higher toll is taken on the environment as energy exploration increases, with the subsequent proper disposal of energy waste becoming more and more important.

Luckily, the workers at the Hazardous Materials Control Center aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune have taken it upon themselves to not only take in any hazardous materials waste and dispose of it properly, but also to educate service members and their families on what to do with leftover products that may pose a threat to the environment.

“Whether it be residents occupying on-base housing or base units, they all generate hazardous material in one form or another,” said Gary Denson, environmental protection assistant with the HMCC. “Units have their own protocol to dispose of their materials, but base residents have a program set up for them.”

That program is the Household Hazardous Material Collection Program, in which any material classified as hazardous per an HMCC list is either dropped off at the center or, after a notification to a resident’s respective Atlantic Marine Corps Communities office, picked up for them.

“Hazardous materials can include pesticides, paint and some cleaners, all unsafe to simply be disposed of down the drain,” said Denson. “Anything that goes down the drain or into the ground always has the potential to go into a water supply.”

With the hazard to the environment as well as the possibility of a direct possible influence to base residents, it is highly encouraged that personnel aboard any military installation properly dispose of any chemical materials. By not following such regulations, legal ramifications may also fall upon a perpetrator if any injuries do occur.

Per Marine Corps Order P5090.2A, “Where individuals violate environmental laws and subsequently injure or damage persons or property as a result of actions taken out of the line of duty or beyond the scope of their employment (e.g., reckless, knowing or purposeful violation) they may be personally liable and may be responsible for paying any damages awarded. This civil liability is in addition to potential criminal prosecution.”

Amid the rules and regulations of hazardous household materials, the HMCC holds high the philosophy of getting the full use out of a product before its eventual disposal. That is why they also have a ‘bargain bin’ of sorts, full of household chemicals that anyone with military identification can come and pick up for free.

“Say someone’s (going to a new duty station) in Japan and they can’t bring their car wash and wax solution,” said Denson. “He can bring it here and anyone can come in and take it. We try not to waste anything that is still usable.”

The HMCC wears two hats: being a receptacle for hazardous waste and teaching homeowners about its proper disposal procedures as well as ensuring they dispose of as little as possible, not letting perfectly good products go to waste.

For more information on the Hazardous Materials Control Center, call 451-1482.