KINGSPORT - The Holston Army Ammunition Plant recently received an environmental certification that not only exceeded a federal mandate, but was also achieved more than two years ahead of schedule.
In 2004 HAAP, and its tenant BAE Systems, received an Executive Order requiring all federal facilities to have an Environmental Management System (EMS) in place by the end of 2005, and to be in full compliance with a federal environmental guideline known as ISO 14001 by 2009.
Not only did HAAP meet the 2005 deadline for implementing its EMS, it also received ISO 14001 certification this past December. Although a third-party inspection was not required by the federal mandate, HAAP's ISO 14001 certification was awarded by an independent third-party inspector, NSF-ISR.
"In the past few years achieving ISO certification has become a key to success for businesses actively involved in the global marketplace," HAAP spokeswoman Nancy Gray said Monday. "ISO 14001 is a series of process standards, a family of environmental standards and guidelines. It strives to establish an organization's environmental ethics and enhance its ability to attain and measure environmental performance."
The five main elements of the ISO 14001 include establishment of an environmental policy; identifying all of the facility's interactions with the environment; implementing a plan to manage the facility's interaction with the environment and reduce environmental impacts; establishing a program of internal audits; and biannual review of the plan.
Heading the HAAP environmental program is BAE Systems environmental manager Bob Winstead. He said Monday that the ISO 14001 guidelines are recognized worldwide.
"It's very important, and in some international circles you can't do business without it," Winstead said. "The Army selected ISO 14001. All of the facilities in the Joint Munitions Command, of which we are one, implemented the system. But we went ahead and got the third-party registrar, which is something the Army did not require. NSF-ISR are an accredited registrar, and they spent a week looking through our facility and verifying that it adheres to the ISO 14001 standards."
Several changes occurred at the facility during the ISO 14001 implementation.
For example, the facility still had some transformers dating back to its construction during World War II which contained PCBs. Last year, BAE enacted a plan that was funded by the Army to eliminate the PCB transformers on the facility.
"If we were to have a spill from one of those transformers now, it's about two orders of magnitude less severe than it would be if it contained PCBs," Winstead said.
Another example was addressing the chemical wastes that are produced by BAE's new insensitive munitions program. Previously those wastes had been shipped by truck to another facility equipped to treat that type of waste, which was expensive and also created the risk of a tanker spill in the event of a highway accident.
To address that concern, BAE Systems installed its own treatment facility to eliminate those wastes on site.
HAAP also burns coal to generate its own electricity, and particulate emissions was one of the concerns addressed during the ISO 14001 implementation.
"The EPA has come out with a new set of more strict emission limits for industrial boilers like ours," Winstead said. "In order to meet that and to reduce the impact on the steam plant, the Army has committed to spend $32 million to upgrade our steam plant and replace our existing pollution control equipment there - which is now somewhat dated - with state-of-the-art fabric filter bags that the smoke passes through and traps the smoke particles.
"It will tremendously reduce our particulate emissions."
Between the Army and BAE Systems, about $200,000 was spent since 2004 implementing the ISO 14001 programs.