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Staff & Center News

Woods Hole Field Center Labs Pass Environmental Audit with Flying Colors

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The USGS's Woods Hole Field Center (WHFC) underwent an environmental audit on June 5 and 6, 2002, performed under a USGS contract to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers CERL (Construction Engineering Research Laboratory) group. This group has been auditing the Department of Defense since 1987 to ensure the safe handling of chemicals and waste by the Federal Government. The USGS is inspecting all facilities to be compliant under environmental laws.

WHFC was notified of the audit in summer 2001. The decision to conduct an audit was based on findings from an Environmental Management Review by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Region I team in 1999. Since 1999, members of the USGS WHFC team have been working to improve workplace and environmental safety. A program was started to ensure that all waste paper, glass, plastic, rechargeable batteries, and metal are directed to the appropriate recycling facilities; team members volunteer to collect and transport the materials. Other steps have been undertaken under the guidance of Ellen Mecray (WHFC chemical hygiene officer) and Larry Poppe (WHFC environmental safety officer). Larry and Ellen, along with Ray Davis, serve as Collateral Duty Safety Officers who report to Wayne Martin (Regional Safety Officer, Reston, VA).

In recent months leading up to the audit, laboratory and warehouse personnel worked intensely to prepare the facility for inspection. Monthly laboratory meetings were called to communicate concerns, provide training, and ensure that paperwork was completed. Signs and labels were ordered for doors, safety-book locations, wash bottles, and cabinets. Shelves and storage areas were checked for chemical compatibility, flammable items, and general clutter. Several key employees, Sarah Jablonski, Flavia Wood, and Jennifer Moore, took charge of many of these tasks. The degree of preparation for the audit would not have been possible without the care and attention of these individuals.

Auditors visited each laboratory work area, selected offices, and the entire warehouse facility. Drawers were opened, cabinets were checked, storage and disposal of chemicals were examined, and employees were asked questions regarding their experimental methods and objectives. After what was called the shortest, most successful audit to date, all of the laboratory employees were brought together for the audit's outbriefing. The contractor and the Regional Safety Officer shared their findings and their impressions with the team. The WHFC successfully passed the audit with only five minor errors, which is "the least number of findings in any audit they have performed to date."

Related Web Sites
Woods Hole Field Center
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

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in this issue: Fieldwork cover story:
Sea Otter Numbers Slide for Second Straight Year

Lake Mead Sediment Study

Salmon & Trout Habitat

Outreach Students Tour M/V Auriga

Williams' Presentation on Videotape

Meetings Benthic-Habitat Symposium

Caribbean Climate Change Conference

Regional Syntheses

Scientists Speak in Reston & D.C.

Awards Remote-Sensing Conference

Staff & Center News Sea-Survival Course

Regional Geologist Visits WHFC

New WHFC Employees

New Student Interns

WHFC Labs Pass Audit

Award-Winning Student Volunteer

Publications Contaminated Sediment - Special Issue of Continental Shelf Research

July Publications List

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