DLA Distribution employees respond during HAZMAT exercise in Germersheim

By Michael Tuttle DLA Troop Support Europe & Africa

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Green goo oozed across the cement as warehouse workers rushed to contain the simulated hazardous material spill on a chilly spring morning May 3 in Germersheim, Germany.

Employees at the Defense Logistics Agency Distribution Europe conducted the HAZMAT training at their main facility at the Germersheim Army Depot. The training took place as DDDE officials wait for German authorities to permit expansion of their HAZMAT storage capacity to support NATO and other military readiness requirements.

After a 55-gallon drum of the green liquid was dumped onto the ground, a group of DDDE employees hurried to retrieve spill kits and then worked together to lay down absorbent socks around the spill to stop it from spreading.

They then rehearsed an emergency phone call for support. The GAD Fire Department is able to respond to HAZMAT incidents on the depot within five minutes.  

Frederick Sillimon has worked at DDDE since 2017 and is part of the HAZMAT team. He said he was confident they could handle a spill even before the training.

After the exercise, Sillimon said about potential real-life spills, “We can handle it.”

The hands-on exercise followed classroom training, in addition to regular safety training DDDE conducts throughout the year, Martin Mendel, warehousing division chief, said. Environmental engineers with U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz served as technical advisers during the training.

 “This training is important to ensure we know how to respond during an actual spill scenario,” Army Lt. Col. Jonathon Ackiss, DDDE commander, said. “Our ultimate goal is that our workers, leaders and partners have a high level of trust in their training, and in one another, to provide the best cumulative response possible.”

The DDDE workforce processes nearly 1,000 requisitions per day and has 80,000 storage locations at more than a dozen warehouses at GAD. DDDE is DLA Distribution’s largest facility in Europe and part of DLA’s worldwide network of 24 distribution centers.

The HAZMAT that DDDE manages for the U.S. military in Europe, Africa and the Middle East include commonly used items such as lubricating oil, deicing fluid, windshield washer fluid, antifreeze, cleaning compounds and fire extinguishers. Those materials are in addition to repair parts, barrier and construction materials, clothing, operational rations and much more.

The renovation to expand DDDE’s HAZMAT storage capacity will begin once the project is approved by German authorities. After the expansion, DDDE will continue to store the same HAZMAT items it manages now.