Making Drinking Water Safer For The Troops

April 17, 2002
| By Katy Rent |
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GRAND RAPIDS — Ever wonder what critters might infest the water our troops drink in Afghanistan — or the Philippines?

Or Argentina, Armenia or Kosovo? Thanks to a local laboratory, you wouldn’t have to worry.

TriMatrix Laboratories Inc. has developed a relationship with the Department of Defense (DOD) to test drinking water for American troops all around the world.

The independent environmental testing laboratory provides comprehensive environmental analytical services to the Air Force Center for Environmental Excellence, a field-operating agency of the Air Force’s Office of the Civil Engineer and operates as the Air Force’s environmental agency.

The laboratory also works with the United States Army Corps of Engineers with hazardous, toxic and radioactive waste.

“Wherever the DOD is deploying troops, we need to go in and do a baseline assessment of the water that will be provided to the troops,” said Phil Komar, federal services manager. “Currently I believe there are, or there were, two base camps in Afghanistan and we were testing samples from the groundwater there to make sure it was safe for the men and women deployed over there.”

TriMatrix also does business with the Air Force Center for Environmental Excellence, U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventative Medicine, U.S. Aviation and Missile Command, Air National Guard, U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

While the lab does not collect samples to be tested, it does perform every other step in the process. Upon receiving samples at the lab, TriMatrix performs the necessary test at the necessary level for that particular sample. After being tested and going through numerous checkpoints and check people, the analysis is then generated and delivered to the client.

The laboratory was recently awarded validation by the Corps of Engineers.  As part of the validation, the company will provide environmental laboratory services in support of the corps’ Hazardous, Toxic, and Radioactive Waste Program at sites throughout the U.S.

Testing is performed on a preventative, non-routine and routine basis. “We will often go to a site before anything has been built or any troops have been deployed. That way we can prevent anything bad from happening or take care of any problems before we are in a critical situation,” Komar said.

“Often the environmental consulting firm will send us the contract from the client they are working with and we will perform that analysis. There are also times when we will send the contract to an environmental consulting firm that will manage the account.”

Komar said that since starting work with DOD in 1999, federal services testing has grown the most and is now 20 percent of TriMatrix’s business.

The other part the laboratory plays in the ring of environmental testing is to serve as a test facility for business clients. “Often there are companies that work with environmental consulting firms. The consulting firm will take samples of waste or soil or water, and then bring them to us to test,” said Komar. “So, in effect, we are hired by the consulting firm to do work for the company.”

He added that many times TriMatrix is called in even before construction has begun on a facility to test the environs and determine whether any pre-treatment work is necessary.

The company tests groundwater, surface water, soil, sludge, plant and animal tissue, wastewater, oil, drinking water, sediment, hazardous waste, food and air. A project chemist manages each client. The chemist manages the project, essentially conducting a liaison between the client and the laboratory.

TriMatrix offers a variety of analytical data packages to meet its clients’ varying requirements. The packages range from basic metrics to CLP-Like Data Packages and ERPIMS deliverables. TriMatrix also provides customized Electronic Data Deliverables (EDDs) in several formats to complement the hard copy.

“Through the DOD we have been able to extend our capabilities around the world,” said Komar. “We continue to grow in every aspect of our business, and especially in the area of federal services we just want to continue to do what we do best whether it be safeguarding, preventative measures, or just keeping companies up to date on what is running through their systems.”

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