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US and UK Coalition Chemical soldiers tackle Balad hazardous materials yard
By SPC Fernando O. Gonzalez, 329th Chemical Platoon
Apr 6, 2007 - 12:19:30 PM
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A site near Balad, where a large number of inadequately labeled chemical barrels were found. (Photo Courtesy of US Army)
Blackanthem Military News, BALAD, Iraq – Army Reserve soldiers from the 329th Chemical Platoon and British Army troops from the MND-SE Division CBRN Team met and worked together in what may be the first of many missions involving the estimated 50,000 barrels of hazardous waste located in various locations around Iraq. 

This first mission took place in Balad, requiring that over two hundred containers be examined, identified and labeled for proper handling, recycling and disposal.  This monumental task demanded much of the team of eleven soldiers.  Neither group had ever worked together as a single CBRN team. This resulted in an exchange of information beneficial to both groups. 

The Multi-National Corps - Iraq sent a representative on the second day of the mission, Retired Army Sergeant Major Jose Melendez,  now serving as a contractor providing support in all aspects regarding Hazardous Materials.  Melendez provided advice to the team regarding the overall operation. He helped ensure that the newly formed team’s first steps were confident ones. He was thrilled to see and later report that the two teams were working very well together despite having just met and that they seemed to  behave as they would if they had been working together for years. 

Utilizing advanced technology that allowed identification to be performed on-site, an initial entry team dressed in chemical protective gear worked to inspect a container, perform initial checks on it while a second team performed the identification using a HazMatID, a device that analyzes the substance and identifies it based on its chemical properties. A third-party laboratory can later verify this analysis.

After  four days of hard work, the mission was complete, with logistical support  provided by the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and contractors on site.  In the end, over one hundred samples on sixty-eight pallets were analyzed, all containers involved were labeled and the team now looks forward to its next mission and to working together again.


A member of the team dressing in appropriate protective clothing ready to test and identify chemicals present. (Photo Courtesy of US Army)
The team get to work on site, clad in protective suits and equipped with sophisticated testing kits. (Photo Courtesy of US Army)

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