US Army Corps of Engineers
Albuquerque District

Cleaning up Cochiti

Public Affairs
Published Jan. 1, 2011
Contractors from Advanced Environmental Solutions, Inc. of Belen, N.M., wore personal protective equipment and performed the actual clean up at the Cochiti project.

Contractors from Advanced Environmental Solutions, Inc. of Belen, N.M., wore personal protective equipment and performed the actual clean up at the Cochiti project.

While old transformers, antifreeze and aerosol cans aren’t significant archeological findings at the District’s Cochiti field project, they do signal that an environmental clean-up could be necessary.

Last spring, staff from both the Cochiti field office and the District office proactively engaged in ensuring the project was up to the Corps’ Environmental Compliance policy guidelines and principles.

The effort started as an “in-house project to identify, characterize and remove two old 1947-vintage transformers discovered in a ‘boneyard’ on the project,” said Mark Rosacker, the District’s supervisory natural resources specialist, Cochiti field office.

The job grew to include other potentially hazardous waste material. Items such as used motor oil and antifreeze, old batteries, left-over paint, aerosol spray cans and old cleaning products had accumulated over time.

The timing of the discovery of the transformers coincided with an ERGO/OMBIL training session in Albuquerque, N.M. and a required five-year inspection at Cochiti.

ERGO, or “Environmental Review Guide for Operations,” is part of the Environmental Compliance Assessment Program. It is a Corps tool used to conduct annual environmental compliance assessments at projects and has become synonymous with the assessment process.

OMBIL stands for “Operations and Maintenance Business Information Link” and is part of the Corps’ Environmental Stewardship Program. With the Corps-wide emphasis on environmental stewardship, every Corps project has a designated Environmental Compliance Coordinator, or ECC. Rosacker is the ECC for Cochiti, Jemez and Galisteo.

During the ERGO training session Steve Carpenter, a safety and occupational health specialist in the District, arranged for a visit to Cochiti as a practical demonstration. Afterward, there was a “better understanding of the issues to be fixed,” Rosacker said.

“The ERGO training and inspection is what made us aware of the problems,” he added. “After which, we ‘took the bull by the horns’ and initiated the process to correct the problems. Cochiti Lake is now a better and safer place for everyone.”