NEWS | Sept. 23, 2020

U.S. Army Garrison Japan Opens Environmentally Friendly Wash Rack for Military Vehicles

By Winifred Brown

SAGAMI GENERAL DEPOT, Japan -- The brand new, environmentally friendly U.S. Army Garrison Japan Wash Rack here is open, and military personnel can now bring government vehicles and equipment there for cleaning.

“Washing your vehicles and equipment has a preventative maintenance value,” said Ken Estabrook, chief Sagami sub facilities engineer, Directorate of Public Works, USAG Japan. “You keep it clean, and it won’t fall apart as fast. So we provided the tools and the equipment to do that without violating environmental procedures.”

The state-of-the-art, self-service facility features two main bays that personnel can split into four using curtains; hoses with different sizes and pressure settings; an undercarriage cleaning system; and a water recovery and recycling system, Estabrook said.

The facility’s bays are big enough to accommodate large vehicles such as Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Trucks, Estabrook said, but personnel can clean any size vehicle or equipment there as long as it belongs to the government.

To use the facility, military personnel—Soldiers and civilians—must watch a training video in the DPW building, Building 161-1 on Sagami General Depot, to become an authorized user. Then, personnel can pick up the facility’s keys from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, and use the facility. The facility closes at 4 p.m. daily, and is closed on weekends and national holidays.

The facility does not provide trash cans, so personnel must take their trash elsewhere, but the facility does provide brooms, and personnel must hose down the area when they’re done, Estabrook said. The maintenance team does an inspection at the end of each day.

It is also necessary that personnel ensure they use the special soap the facility provides, because if they don’t, it will damage the water recycling system, Estabrook said.

The facility’s drainage system collects water in a catchment basin where solid sediment settles to the bottom, Estabrook said.

“Then it takes the separated water that probably still has some fine, emulsified contaminants in the water, and sucks it into the filtration system,” Estabrook said. “It goes through about three or four different filters over there, becomes clean again, and goes back into the storage tank.”

The storage tank holds about 10,000 gallons, Estabrook said, and to ensure the water doesn’t begin to smell after several uses, the system also includes aeration and ionization features.

Personnel should never drink the facility’s water, Estabrook said.

The left bay has larger hoses that provide higher pressure, so is better for larger vehicles, and the right bay has smaller hoses with lower pressure that are better for smaller vehicles, Estabrook said. The left bay also features the undercarriage cleaning system, which is for larger vehicles.

“It’s designed for the large equipment, because you don’t want to drive a small vehicle over it,” Estabrook said. “It will mess up the engine and it will mess up the electronics.”

Estabrook said personnel should not drive anything smaller than a Humvee over the undercarriage cleaning system.

Although DPW is not normally a customer service organization, leaders made an exception in this case to provide oversight continuity, Estabrook said.

Personnel from Camp Zama are welcome to use the facility.

“As a matter of fact, it’s even better for that situation because we try to use this area as a training facility for Soldiers,” Estabrook said.

Because Sagami General Depot has a lot of open space, Soldiers can train in the field with their vehicles and equipment, clean them at the wash rack when they are done, and return to Camp Zama, Estabrook said.

For more information, or to see if the wash rack is available, call the Sagami General Depot DPW customer service number at (DSN) 315-268-4931.