First Environment assisted Westchester County Airport with the design, implementation, and successful registration of an Airport Council International (ACI) award-winning ISO 14001 Environmental Management System (EMS). Westchester County Airport is located partially within a New York City and Westchester County drinking water reservoir, resulting in a complicated regulatory regime involving EPA, NYSDEC, NYCDEP, and Westchester Health Department. It is also located within three municipalities, adding further to the complexity of compliance. Additionally, the airport is in a community where the environment and its protection are highly valued.
The airport—which includes general and commercial aviation operations—has operated since 1949 and has experienced numerous historic environmental issues. As a result, the airport chose to exceed its regulatory requirements by implementing an extensive groundwater monitoring program as well as a voluntary restraint-from- flying program that includes extensive community noise monitoring. In response to constituents’ concerns, the County Executive committed to an ISO 14001 EMS that would ensure stakeholder confidence in the environmental management of this facility and would include all parties with the potential to impact the environment at the airport. It was therefore decided that all airport operations—including those associated with tenants, contractors, vendors, and county departments with airport responsibilities—would have to be addressed in the EMS. The resulting EMS which First Environment developed coordinated the environmental components of activities performed by eight county departments (e.g., Planning, Public Works, Public Safety, Health, Environmental Facilities, Law, Transportation, and Information Technology), 33 major tenants (e.g., airlines, FBOs, car rentals, corporate facilities, ground support, etc.), county and tenant contractors, vendors, TSA, FAA, and AvPORTS, the operator of the airport. Over 1,200 individuals are employed directly or indirectly by the airport through these entities. The Airport Advisory Board (made up of citizens and community representatives) was also included in the EMS structure.
As part of ther EMS design and implementation, First Environment developed training and conducted workshops to introduce responsible parties to EMS concepts, identify critical EMS needs, and define the EMS components and their interaction. First Environment also completed the following tasks:
- prepared and distributed questionnaires to identify tenant operations and their associated
- environmental issues conducted interviews of county and airport personnel
- drafted high level EMS procedures, specific work instructions and checklist
- developed integrated compliance tools that incorporated hazardous waste management, SPPP, SPCC, UST, sewer, safe drinking water, pesticide reduction and air emissions requirements
- identified aspects and impacts
- determined a significance criteria
- developed computer-based tools to assist operations in handling environmental issues, as well as managing information and communication
So as not to overwhelm airport personnel, we developed these EMS components concurrently and rolled them out as they were completed.
In order to assist airport staff in capturing and organizing information, First Environment developed a database that collects and manages environmental permits, data, and records; site environmental information such as oil and chemical storage, storm drains, and outfalls; fueling and deicing locations, and other data. We linked this information in a series of modules with other relevant EMS data, including aspects and impacts. The database also allows airport staff to enter and sort information by categories and operators. Separate modules enable the airport to track corrective actions, objectives, and targets as well as the associated programs to achieve them. Additional modules support regulatory requirements pertaining to aboveground and underground storage tanks, stormwater management, waste management, and sewer permit requirements.
The database is also linked to a GIS application so that information such as locations of aboveground and underground tanks, fueling stations, monitoring wells, and storm drains in the database can be illustrated graphically. First Environment also developed an intranet site that provided access to critical EMS components and tools to all users, including county departments and tenants.
Environmental Compliance and EMS Audits
First Environment conducted several multimedia environmental compliance and systems audits of AvPORTS operations at the airport. AvPORTS provides airport management services, including air terminal operations, facility and building maintenance, and environmental and noise management services. The objective of this audit was to evaluate the environmental compliance status of representative operations with respect to applicable federal, state, and local environmental laws, regulations, associated permit requirements, and Executive Orders. The audit included a kickoff meeting; records review, site observations; and report preparation. Findings were entered into the facility’s nonconformance database to ensure they were tracked appropriately to resolution.
The EMS was successfully certified in September 2004 with zero non-conformances found during the certification audit. Notably, in 2005, the project was recognized by ACI with one of its three environmental awards made that year. The airport also has passed several subsequent surveillance audits.
In addition, First Environment continues to work with the airport to develop additional auditing tools as well as a formal change management procedure to ensure continual improvement.