Advertisement

Archive for Monday, September 29, 2008

KU fined $80,000 for improper handling of hazardous waste

KU has been fined more than $80,000 for improperly handling hazardous waste.

September 29, 2008, 3:02 p.m. Updated September 29, 2008, 4:25 p.m.

Advertisement

Kansas University will have to pay more than $80,000 after being cited for violations related to improper handling of hazardous waste, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The punishment, made public today following a legal settlement between the university and the EPA, has two parts.

The university will pay a $39,431 civil penalty for the violations and will have to spend $41,585 on a new program involving data collection, evaluation and additional training for those who work in all 301 labs at the university that handle hazardous waste, Chris Whitley, an EPA spokesman, said today.

"Obviously, the price of not following the regulatory requirements is not cheap," Whitley said.

Whitley said the violations occurred campuswide, although some labs had no violations, while others had multiple violations.

KU spokesman Jack Martin said no final decisions had been made on how the university would pay the civil penalty.

He referred questions seeking a response from the university on the matter to a news release.

In the release, Don Steeples, senior vice provost for scholarly support, said that as part of the remedy to the situation, the university would find ways to reduce the use of chemicals and hazardous waste in its labs.

"We're pleased the EPA has worked with us to make such a project possible, because we believe it will result in improved laboratory waste handling procedures," Steeples said in the release.

Mike Russell, director of environmental health and safety for the university, said his department would likely pay the $41,585 cost to institute the program.

He said three or four staff members could be tapped to incorporate the new program over the next two years.

They will add the program to their duties, he said, which mostly involve hazardous waste reduction efforts now.

"The priority things will still have to get done," Russell said. "It (the new program) will become a second priority for us for the next two years on a daily basis."

Russell said the university didn't agree with every violation cited by the EPA, and that the agency removed some violations in the new settlement.

Potential violations, discovered across the Lawrence campus during an inspection on Dec. 12, 2007, include:

¢ Failing to determine whether some waste produced by the school was hazardous.

¢ Allowing incompatible chemicals to be stored on the same shelf.

¢ Operating as a hazardous waste treatment facility without a permit.

In particular, problems were identified in Malott Hall, Haworth Hall and the Pharmaceutical Chemistry Lab on West Campus.

In 2005, KU was also cited for failing to determine whether some university-produced waste was hazardous. In its response to the EPA, KU officials tested the waste, and everything was proven to be nonhazardous. The university was cited for the same problem in 2000 and 1994.

Comments

compmd 6 years, 2 months ago

"Don Steeples, senior vice provost for scholarly support, said that as part of the remedy to the situation, the university would find ways to reduce the use of chemicals and hazardous waste in its labs."Well Mr. Steeples, I have a better idea. Maybe the university should just follow the rules and stop pretending it is untouchable.

booze_buds_03 6 years, 2 months ago

Seems to me Mike Russell should be fired over such an incident, especially now that they have been twiced. Heads should roll as KU's Environmental, Health and Safety department is an absolute joke.

BaxterC 6 years, 2 months ago

As long as the steam whistle stays, everything will be OK.

cthulhu_4_president 6 years, 2 months ago

KU's self proclaimed green police will no doubt have a fit about this. Something bigger to complain about than teachers using too much paper used to print out syllabi for their classes! Perhaps in the fever of trendy eco-friendliness, some priorities got misplaced (Along with some hazardous waste)?

tollef 6 years, 2 months ago

Now they are going to have to shut down the steam whistle again to save money

germx 6 years, 2 months ago

This fine is no suprise the department is so relaxed about saftey and waste. I worked as a researcher in Malott for a year. My only waste managment training was a 30 minute powerpoint during my orientation. I was actually told by the senior students to dump certain chemicals down the drain...ooops

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 6 years, 2 months ago

$80,000?!So why, then, might we be fined a hundred thousand times as much to deal with the hazardous waste improperly handled by the current administration?

Potawatomi 6 years, 2 months ago

Tom...Isn't KU full of rich right wingers from JoCo that don't care about anything except their cell phones and SUVs?

bearded_gnome 6 years, 2 months ago

Whitley said the violations occurred campuswide, although some labs had no violations, while others had multiple violations.hey! put that back! that's the "mystery condiment" KU-food service has brought in! it increases burger and hot dog sales 40%! they had backordered it, and had to store it in them labs! c'mon! give it back!

LarryLarryLarry 6 years, 2 months ago

For what it's worth....I have dealt with EPA in the past and can tell you that they are over-reactive and cite everyone for petty violations. I cannot think of a bigger waste of tax dollars. These inspectors are paid top-dollar ($70-$110k/per year) to write citations for the most ridiculous things imaginable. For instance, KU was cited for not correctly labeling a container of hazardous waste. They had the words "biotage waste" on the container. That's not good enough for the EPA. They require the exact words "hazardous waste". If not, fine time! Ridiculous! Of course without these "violations", they could not justify their program or the funding required to run it. I think it's time to look at the real cost and value of these enforcement programs.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.