News: RadCon Team Ensures Safety at Misawa
Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Devon Dow
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan - The bioenvironmental engineering office at Misawa Air Base continued to check all arriving aircraft conducting humanitarian missions in support of Operation Tomodachi.
The department has received additional Navy personnel support, March 23, 2011, due to an increase in air traffic at the northern Japan-located base, which currently serves as a major hub for relief efforts in disaster-stricken areas to its south.
The cleansing is yet another precautionary effort to ensure the security of the base community.
According to the Radiation Contamination Technician Leading Chief Petty Officer Michael Sanguinet, electronics technician, there have been no significant hazardous radiation levels on crewmembers or aircraft, but the post sortie assessments and wash down mission is necessary and a continuing success.
“The efforts by this office have been incredible,” said the Honolulu, Hawaii, native. “We are doing exactly what we need to do in order to meet the mission and support the humanitarian effort. I could not be prouder of the team here.
“It has been great working with our Air Force counterparts, they have been gracious hosts. We come from the same background with the same mission - to provide safety for the environment and people,” he added.
With the arrival of naval personnel, the bioenvironmental engineering office has the increased capability to conduct more inspections. Regarding aircraft, the office is providing three types of decontamination.
One of the tests performed is spot decontamination. During the test, technicians use a cloth to wipe away any areas detected for abnormal levels of radiation. The contents are then controlled in a plastic bag and tested again to ensure safety standards.
Another decontamination effort is a coldwater rinse of aircraft in a designated location on the airstrip. This facilitates the removal of any dust or contamination that an aircraft may collect in flight.
The water from this rinsing is ultimately collected in large storage bladders constructed by Air Force engineers, and is sampled to ensure it is safe or needs to be treated.
The final service provided by the office is a wash with hot water and soap inside of a hangar bay. It is during this test that levels of decontamination to aircraft are at their lowest.
Each test is conducted according to the field team’s findings on the aircraft. While every aircraft may not require each test, the coldwater rinse is applied to all helicopters that return to the base following their missions in support of Operation Tomodachi.
Sanguinet said the tests are important to ensure the environment and people operating around the aircraft are safe.
“The security of maintenance personnel is a top priority for us,” he said. “They are the ones who are going to be the most hands on with the aircraft, climbing on and inside of the aircraft, providing essential maintenance. It is important for us to continue to provide these tests to ensure their safety along with the pilots and the aircrew.”
Supporting the bioenvironmental engineering office is essential to continuing humanitarian efforts in support of Operation Tomadachi, said Petty Officer 1st Class Rich Klee, machinist’s mate and an Alden, N.Y., native assigned to Naval Shipyard, Norfolk.
“We are here for the entire base and to support the humanitarian effort. As long as missions are able to continue and supplies are going to the people in Japan that need them, at the end of the day that is what really matters.”
For more news from Naval Air Facility Misawa, visit: https://www.cnic.navy.mil/misawa/index.htm or check out our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/nafmisawa.