US Army’s 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan
Forward Operating Base Gardez in a remote part of Afghanistan is the front line in America’s war against terrorism, and the emergency call from the base received at CHEMTREC® in May of 2006 launched an unforgettable series of events that reflected the highest levels of professionalism at the base and at CHEMTREC.
The U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division Task Force VANGUARD discovered a massive pile of chemical drums, many openly leaking, had been dumped near the base, posing both an environmental and a security hazard to the base and the local civilian population. Hazardous materials identified at the site included sulfuric acid, acetic anhydride, hydrochloric acid and more, and their damaged containers were clearly emitting noxious fumes. After receiving initial advice to “burn the pile” from an unnamed source, Lt. Col. Richard G. Kaiser, the base commander, directed his team to call CHEMTREC for proper guidance.
Following the initial call to CHEMTREC ESP Consulting, LLC d/b/a Responder was contacted. Manny Ehrlich, a veteran chemical crisis manager and consultant to CHEMTREC advised the colonel on appropriate containment, confinement and mitigation procedures. Ehrlich also counseled the base about the proper personal protective equipment and respirators required for soldiers working at the site.
He provided Col. Kaiser with contact information for Afghanistan fire departments and U.S. military bases in the region, with the assistance of the NFPA network (Steve Foster, Tyndell AFG and Steve Patrick, FBI) that had the proper equipment and trained personnel necessary to safely respond to the incident and assist in the disposal of the drums.
In late July Manny Ehrlich was honored to each receive a “Certificate of Appreciation” from the 10th Mountain Division, signed by both Colonel Kaiser and Command Sergeant Major Wayne H. Walker. In part, the citation reads:
“Your expertise and calm, competent advice allowed Task Force VANGUARD to remediate the chemical hazard with no damage to the local environment. Your assistance provided us the reassurance needed during a time of crisis and is truly appreciated. You efforts have greatly aided our Nation during the Global War on Terrorism and reflect great credit upon yourself, CHEMTREC and the United States of America.”