Andrea Abat. I’m a special
agent with the Environmental Protection Agency. I was an officer in the Army. I was stationed
over in Germany, and the particular unit that I was in developed and generated a lot of
hazardous waste in our processes. We made maps. There were inks, there were petroleum
and oil and lubricants and other things. And the German government was very serious about
their environmental programs. That’s kind of my first exposure, so to speak, in addressing
environmental issues. And through that, once I decided — when I
came back to the States, I decided I really wanted to stay in the environmental field.
I went to work as an emergency response contractor, where I was answering the calls for railcar
disasters, or explosions at refineries down in Houston, these kinds of things. And I also
started working with the Criminal Investigation Division, working with some of these agents.
The opportunity came up for me to apply to become an agent way back in 1996, and in 1997
that came to fruition. I don’t have a criminal justice background.
I don’t have a background in science. I have a background that’s engineering, architecture,
and construction based really. So it’s not necessary that you have a criminal justice
degree. It’s not necessary that you have a science or technical degree. What is necessary
is that you have the motivation to protect human health and the environment. There are people that come from all different
kinds of backgrounds to do this job. That’s part of the reason that the training programs
are so important, and particularly our training that’s ongoing, for us to continue to thrive
and learn the best way to meet these environmental crime challenges. This challenge is tremendous for me, knowing
when you go home at night and you lay your head down on the pillow that you’ve done
something that is helping generations to come. There’s nothing more gratifying than the
work that I do right now, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.