It isn’t often we can talk about EPA helping a community rather than finding ways to stymie and wrap them up in regulations and rules.
BUT here is one that is worth a great deal toward moving unemployed and young people forward into an industry that really needs to be considered.
How many times have we heard of disasters where hazmat cleanup and workers were involved? Certainly more every day as places across the country meet different scenarios. Where do these workers come from? How do they get trained? Is it an industry that could provide good paying jobs even on a temporary basis for those willing to take part? Is it something that young people could actually start up careers in and possibly new companies to address the issue?
Scott Pruitt was confirmed on February 17 to take over as EPA administrator. One of the first acts which began really before his assuming office but came to fruition on February 24th was an event that went mostly unnoticed and certainly underplayed in media. It was not just a means to help the community meet problems of hazmat head on but even more managed to partner groups like Goodwill, the city of Tacoma, and the local technical college, Clover Park, to provide ways and means to support those interested in helping the community and those who needed new job training focus.
Region 10 of EPA was highlighted in an EPA Press Release on February 24th that didn’t make a splash across the media simply because it wasn’t a danger, involved with death, or an anti-Trump theme. In fact, it was a campaign promise in motion – the encouragement of jobs in our economy by Trump.
(Seattle) The Environmental Protection Agency, the City of Tacoma, Clover Park Technical College, and Goodwill are providing grant-funded training opportunities in 2017 to help the unemployed, underemployed, and transitioning servicemen and veterans in Pierce County into quality environmental careers.
A $200,000 EPA Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training Grant (formerly Brownfields Grant) is funding recruiting, entry-level training, career counseling and job placement services that are a gateway to careers in construction, contamination remediation, hazardous material handling, and more. Environmental careers start at $14/hr and can reach senior management positions paying more than $65/hr.
The program is ongoing and targets Tacoma or Pierce County residents 18 and older. The Washington Department of Ecology’s August 2015 Hazardous Sites List identifies 141 sites in the City of Tacoma either pending or in the process of cleanup while 54 more are across the rest of Pierce County. Even though Tacoma has only 25% of the population of Pierce County, it has 72% of the hazardous sites – more than 2.5 times the rest of the county. The need for environmental cleanup in Pierce and nearby counties will offer businesses like TCB project opportunities requiring a labor and management force of Hazmat certified employees through 2026.
Goodwill uses its network of education campuses and case managers to recruit, career counsel and help students with job placement, Clover Park Technical College performs the training, the City of Tacoma manages the partnership and grant administration, and the EPA provides grant resources and funding. Private businesses like TCB Industrial recruit students based upon their specific interest areas.
“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,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.
“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 improvements to Tacoma and Pierce County,” he added.
“Each of these training opportunities is highly valued and include approximately $1,500 in certifications in HAZWOPER, Underground Storage Tank, OSHA 10 Construction Safety, Confined Space Entry, Forklift, and Asbestos.”
The Federal hazardous materials transportation law (49 U.S.C. § 5101 et seq.), is the basic statute regulating the transportation of hazardous materials (hazmat) in the United States. This law requires the training of ALL hazmat employees. The purpose is to increase a hazmat employee’s safety awareness and be an essential element in reducing hazmat incidents. The Hazardous Materials regulations (HMR) include training requirements in several sections of Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) such as air, vessel, and highway. It includes everything from pipelines to oil rigs, industrial spills to waterway pollution, transportation accidents to flight disasters and more.
This is a growing technical industry that needs trained people to assist. It may be a niche market but think of the opportunities available for those who are enthusiastic and focused on beginning careers and businesses which are more and more becoming necessary. It doesn’t stop with those needed in the field to do the clean up but with all the necessary suppliers of extremely specialized equipment and innovative means of safeguarding hazmat workers as well as the public. Getting US workers involved, trained, and focused not only helps them today but far into the future.
Environmental XPRT is a global environmental industry marketplace and information resource. According to their website, there are roughly 50,000 companies they recognized across the world in this field. Expertise is needed in every sector including invention, training, manufacturing, sales, and more.
Their list includes:
- Air & Climate
- Energy & Renewables
- Environmental Management
- Health & Safety
- Monitoring & Testing
- Soil & Groundwater
- Waste & Recycling
- Water & Wastewater
So while we hear very little on this topic in general until there is a crisis, we for once can say that EPA has used its funds more efficiently and wisely to prepare for disasters. It also is providing training and sparking future businesses for unemployed workers and youths in communities. There is no way of knowing who or what ripples come from this cooperative effort; but, it certainly helps place certified workers in critically needed jobs in a constructive way rather than being determined to break apart communities and hinder productivity.