Military munitions experts, regulators, government contractors and various stakeholders are meeting online this year to share lessons learned and best practices in their complex field, rather than traveling to Huntsville for their annual training workshop.
"The webinar series is being developed and executed as a cost effective means of sharing information on technologies, policies and lessons learned across the military munitions support services community," said Dwayne Ford, a civil engineer with the Environmental and Munitions Center of Expertise.
The topics are determined based on feedback from workshop participants and topics of interest to the broader community, Ford said. The March webinar focused on hazard assessment and more than 240 people attended.
In 2012, the decision was made not to fund the workshop even though a call for abstracts and presentations had been announced. As it became clear that funding would not be available for future workshops, the decision to launch monthly online training began, said Christopher Evans, special assistant for Military Munitions Support Services, headquarters U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
"This is the next best thing we can do. We have to keep sharing information and knowledge with the munitions community and our stakeholders," Evans said.
The benefits of the technical training don’t just apply to those charged with the task of remediating sites where military munitions were used.
"I believe it is very beneficial to all parties to hold joint training sessions and work through lessons learned and emerging technologies," said Doug Maddox, munitions lead from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Federal Facilities Restoration and Reuse Office. "This allows more resources to be applied directly to site cleanup and avoid unnecessary delays. In the current climate of tighter budgets, we appreciate the Army’s willingness to open the training sessions to stakeholders and regulators," Maddox said.
The EPA has been a participant in the workshops since 2003.
"One of the things about doing this online is making it available to more people," said Bill Veith, Unexploded Ordnance Safety Specialist with the EM CX.
"At the physical conference, people had to pick and choose what breakout sessions to attend, but since this is both online and recorded, we’ll reach more people," Veith said.
Starting in the mid-1990s the military munitions community met in Huntsville, Ala., for an Ordnance and Explosives Safety Stand Down. That event later grew into the annual Military Munitions Support Services Conference sponsored by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Headquarters and expanded to include regulators and stakeholders, policy discussions, and presentations by senior leaders.
The EM CX, who sponsors the workshops and organizes content, has opened registration requests for upcoming workshops on the EPA’s Contaminated Site Cleanup Information website, located at www.clu-in.org.