Project Profile: U.S. Air Force Fuel System Compliance
CGRS has gone international!
Michael Baker International, the Defense Logistics Agency’s (DLA) prime contractor, hired CGRS to test fuel sites on three United States Air Force bases in Japan to ensure they comply with the Ministry of Japan’s new regulatory updates. Richard Thomas, California Compliance Operations Supervisor, traveled to the Pacific Ocean island in May to perform the work, which included annual Permanent Leak Detection Systems (PLDS) testing – comparable with annual monitor certifications in the U.S. – on 11 sites and repairs to four sites’ leak-detection monitors.
For many years the Air Force bases in Japan have followed the DLA’s Best Management Practices (BMPs), but the country’s new regulations mirror the stricter U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Code of Federal Regulations, 40 CFR Part 280, Thomas explained. Michael Baker wanted to ensure their client’s best interests, asking CGRS to travel overseas and take on the task.
Thomas took five flights while on his 14-day mission to and from Japan and between the three air bases: Misawa Air Base in Aomori Prefecture, Yokota Air Base in Western Tokyo and Kadena Air Base in Okinawa Prefecture.
He also underwent a detailed background screening to gain the Japanese Ministry’s approval for the visit, receiving a DLA Letter of Authorization for critical mission operations and a U.S. Department of State Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) status for travel, as the Japanese Ministry was not allowing any tourism and only limited business travel.
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Other unique aspects of the trip included:
- Submitting COVID vaccinations records and a negative COVID test 72 hours prior to departure
- Testing for COVID again upon arrival of the airport and quarantining on base until negative results returned 24 hours later
- Wearing masks on the plane to Japan and while off base when indoors, in taxis, and on airplanes to and from the air bases
- Making sure he packed all the required tools and parts (“I missed our trucks but still managed to make it all work out,” Thomas said.)
- Needing a negative COVID test 24 hours prior to boarding the flight home
- Working several days in torrential downpour
Thomas also could engage in off-base activities once receiving his negative results from the airport COVID test. While language was not an issue on the air bases, he did find communicating a bit challenging – but not impossible – off base.
“I did two days of sightseeing over the weekend up in Misawa,” he said. “I ate off base at local restaurants about 98% of my trip. (The Japanese) are some of the kindest people I have met.”
Other perks of the trip Thomas identified included Air Force One landing at Yokota Air Base while he was working on the flight line; being able to address the known issues on four sites and bring the systems into compliance; and CGRS having the first opportunity to bid on future fuel-system upgrades, repairs, and secondary-containment and overfill-equipment testing.