The use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), commonly known as drones, is a growing application of modern aerial technology. Most commonly used by the military and law enforcement, drones are finding increasing utility in many areas of the public sector. An OSC in Region II recently used a small drone to conduct an aerial assessment of a partially collapsed roof at the Old Saratoga Hospital CERCLA asbestos removal site in upstate New York. Because of the deteriorated condition of the old roof and the interior stairwells, it was unsafe for personnel to physically access it. By using a drone to obtain digital images of the roof the EPA technical contractor was able to then superimpose images of damaged areas of the roof onto a floor plan, thus pinpointing the exact rooms where the overlying ceiling was compromised. This in turn was a critical aspect in drafting both the HASP and the Work Plan for this site.
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Realizing that the successful use of drones at a removal site could be extended to site assessments, oil spill assessments, shoreline damage assessments, disaster assessments, finding abandoned containers, and many other environmental applications, Region II is giving a training session on drones. It will consist of a Power Point presentation on the components of a drone, their general use, capabilities and limitations, safety concerns, proposed FAA regulations, drone vendors, and a case study of the drone used at the Old Saratoga Hospital Site. The presentation will be followed by an open field demonstration of a small drone at the EPA Edison facility where the drone will be used to locate a stash of 55-gallon drums. The Power Point presentation will be available electronically to anyone requesting a copy.