18th Wing conducted large scale fuel response exercise

by Staff Sgt. Marcus Morris
18th Wing Public Affairs

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- The 18th Mission Support Group along with the 18th Civil Engineer Group and 18th Medical Group conducted a triennial fuel spill response exercise here April 15.

The exercise not only met the Defense Logistics Agency requirement to practice worst case discharge every three years, it also allowed the wing inspection team to look over the plan and determine if there were any areas needing improvement to make the process more streamlined.

"The first year we did a fuel spill exercise here it was a small spill from a vehicle, and then the next year they ramped it up to a larger spill where it was 6,000 gallons of fuel released," said Maj. Dan Walton, 18th Wing inspection planner. "This year, we looked at the worst case scenario which would be an earthquake cracking one of our fuel tanks and dumping half a million gallons of Jet Propellant 8 fuel in 22 hours into the culvert and ravine areas."

Airmen and civilians responded with fire trucks, patrol cars and equipment needed to assess, contain and clean up the simulated 333 gallons of fuel being dumped per minute.

During the exercise, Airmen from the 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron worked with contractors to check the initial responses of the fuel farm and contacted the 18th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighters. The firefighters quickly assessed the situation, donned their masks and turned the handle to transfer the simulated cracked tank to an undamaged storage tank.

18th Security Forces members worked with bioenvironmental Airmen to determine the proper protective equipment and distance needed to safely work near the simulated spill and set-up security cordons. Afterward, the 18th CES fuel response team worked with 18th LRS to pump the water, which represented the fuel, out of the culverts to be transported and properly disposed of.

"We couldn't handle a spill this large without the other people," said Master Sgt. Benjamin Powell, 18th CES firefighter assistant chief of training. "We couldn't do it without the training as well and these kind of events help our people understand this is why we do it and why we train like this."

After the physical part of the exercise, they continued in the afternoon with a tabletop exercise discussing how they would contract out the clean-up and get the message out to the local populous. The exercise allowed the wing to streamline their communication and let them know who to go to for particular concerns.

"I think it was a good thing to make this a wing inspection instead of being unit specific so we can get better and stronger as a wing," said Powell. "It gives the program visibility to the wing commander so he can make the whole process better, the environment better and make our Airmen safer."

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