Tacoma and EPA Provide Grant-Funded Hazwoper Training

Tacoma and EPA Provide Grant-Funded Hazwoper TrainingThe city of Tacoma, Washington, Clover Park Technical College, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, are partnering to provide grant-funded  HAZWOPER training for unemployed, underemployed, and transitioning servicemen and veterans in Pierce County, Washington into the environmental sector.

The training, offered though the Environmental Program at Clover Park, involves:

  • HAZWOPER training and certification
  • Hazmat station training
  • Recruitment services
  • Career Counseling
  • Job Placement services

The program, funded through a $200K Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training Grant (formerly the Brownfield Grant) aims to provide a practical course offering for those individuals who work in or foresee a career in the Environmental workforce. Furthermore, the program targets Tacoma or Pierce County residents, ages 18 or older, in an effort to bolster the environmental cleanup workforce in the area. The Washington Department of Ecology – Hazardous Sites list showed that Pierce County encompasses 72% of hazardous sites in the greater Tacoma-Pierce County area; this percentage is more than 2.5 times the national average of hazardous site population. As such, Pierce County faces the demand of environmental cleanup workforce.

EPA administrator, Scott Pruit, said about the grant-funded HAZWOPER training, “Brownfields job training programs are a win-win for communities like Tacoma and others, impacted by hazardous waste sites.  They provide unemployed and underemployed citizens and transitioning servicemen and veterans with valuable technical skills that enable them to get good jobs in their communities. (The) EPA is proud to partner with the city, Clover Park Technical College, and Goodwill, to provide a gateway to careers in construction and site cleanup and bring much-needed environmental improvement to Tacoma and Pierce County.”

Positions in environmental cleanup and the handling of hazardous chemicals/waste comprise a bourgeoning career-field. Safety leaders tasked with the management of worksites which handle or house hazardous chemicals and waste should utilize an OSHA-approved training course as a resource to ensure the safety of their employees and agency compliance.


Alaskan SeaLife Center to Form Emergency Response Network

Alaskan SeaLife Center to Form Emergency Response NetworkThe Alaska SeaLife Center has begun the development of a national emergency response network for marine-mammals affected by oil spills. The organization, which began with funding derived from the Exxon Valdez oil-spill settlement, is utilizing a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and is working in association with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to form the network.

The work done by the partnering agencies is in an effort to gather and maintain a database of veterinary professionals with specialized skillsets in oil-spill and natural-disaster affected marine-mammal care.

Chip Arnold, who is coordinating the project, stresses his hope that the project will become both self-sustaining and specialized in wildlife-response. Arnold described the earlier years at SeaLife, “I think people just assumed that we were prepared to respond to oiled wildlife but the fact of the matter was that, in the early days, we were just trying to respond to stranded wildlife and to keep our aquarium … so I think that this was just, kind-of, returning to those roots and returning to those things we knew we were going to be involved in, if this ever happened again.”

Of the requisite training components for the network of professionals, Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (or HAZWOPER) protocols will be primary. Arnold explained that, in incidents of the past, like the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010, several professionals were qualified but could not participate in the clean-up effort because they had not completed HAZWOPER-training. As such, the efficacy of the emergency-response team was diminished.

In the case of emergency response, efficiency and timeliness are of the utmost importance. With SeaLife, their operations were hamstrung by a lack of HAZWOPER. In the general industry, HAZWOPER training is a useful and, often, mandated standard. Safety leaders who oversee workplaces that house or deal in the management of hazardous chemicals would be well-served to utilize an OSHA-approved training course to ensure the efficacy of their operations and safety of their employees