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Monday, April 21, 2014

COTA team undergoes training on ‘green’ practices

From left, Roy Rios, community planner, COTA; Rose Woodford, project manager, VTECH; Bob Herbert, Senior COTA Fellow and trainer/ISO 14001 lead auditor, VTECH; Thomas J. Camacho, special assistant for public transportation, COTA; Harry E. Gregori Jr., trainer/ISO 14001 lead auditor, VTECH; Christopher Sablan, grants management coordinator, COTA; and Mary Dickinson, administrative officer, COTA. (Contributed Photo) The Commonwealth Office of Transit Authority’s Environmental Sustainability Management System Core Team recently returned from Roanoke, Virginia, after completing their second of four training sessions. The team underwent a series of training from VirginiaTech under contract with the Federal Transit Administration.

An environmental management system is a set of management process and procedures that allows an organization to analyze, control, and reduce the environmental impact of its activities, products, services, and operation with greater efficiency and control. As a guidance, the training model and materials use the ISO 14001 version.

COTA is one of the transit agencies selected among nine other state transit agencies.

According to Thomas J. Camacho, special assistant for public transportation, the CNMI team was composed of five core members. The team presented its progress on its first workshop assignment, then its work on Control of Documents. Other team members presented on their work on Environmental Policy, Environmental Aspects/Significance Aspects, Legal & Other and Resource, Roles, Responsibility & Authority.

Teams listened to a case study by former ESMS teams, worked on new topics such Documentation, went into two team breakout sessions, heard sustainability initiatives presentation by former ESMS teams, worked on Objectives, Targets and Programs, and heard a presentation from a former ESMS team on Emergency Preparedness & Response Case Study. The team also went through training on Emergency Preparedness & Response.

Between December 2013 through February 2014, the teams must meet once a week to develop and complete their homework assignments, attend two conference calls with VirginiaTech instructors and one with FTA officials, submit quarterly progress reports and submit its assignments online prior to traveling back to Virginia to report on its workshop 2 progress and attend Workshop 3 scheduled in February 2014. This whole process is repeated up until the fourth and final workshop in June 2014.

FTA/VirginiaTech personnel will travel to the CNMI in the fall of 2014 and early 2015 to conduct the first GAP Audit to review COTA’s fence line facilities and operations, to be conducted by an ISO 14001 certified lead auditor. The second trip will be the second (final) GAP Audit to review documents onsite with the ISO 14001 certified lead auditor.

The environmental benefits of COTA’s participation with ESMS is aimed at reducing the number, type, and severity of compliance incidents; improved relationships with state and federal regulators; pollution and waste quantify reductions; recovered resources; reduction of air emissions; and reduction of amount of oil in waste water.

"This is timely since now COTA operates from its new office, operates and maintains vehicles for the Call-a-Ride Saipan service and in 2014, COTA will launch the first-ever Saipan Fixed-Flex Route system to eventually expand service to Rota and Tinian," said Camacho. "Currently, COTA is in the process of bidding out the A&E for its new administration building and for the conversion of an existing warehouse into Bus/Vehicle Maintenance, and the Repair & Storage Facility."

The next step will be to bid out the construction of the facilities to be built at its Lower Base property. Ultimately, the ESMS will include the planning and operation of oceangoing vessel or ferry for interisland travel within the CNMI. (Office of the Governor)

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