Friday, June 10, 2011

Hazardous waste disposal

Shocked to find kerosene stored in a coffee can.
Spent part of today cleaning out the last of the flammable cabinets and preparing another collection for our Environmental Health and Safety staff. To my dismay, I found several glass jars full of gasoline that had been missed on the first pass through the cabinet. I knew there were about 5 gas cans full of unleaded in this cabinet, along with two full propane cylinders, and wow-ee, we found a coffee can half full of kerosene! Yes, that marker actually kind of says kerosene on the lid. This helps to explain why the cabinet smelled so damn bad.

In keeping with UT and lab policy for Hazardous Chemical Waste disposal, I decanted the compatible fuels into a 20L Nalgene carboy that was tagged with an EHS Waste Disposal label with my name, UTID number, lab contact, building and room number, and full chemical description. You'll notice from the photos that this was done wearing PPE and working in the vent hood. All of the gas was discolored, varying from straw, to red, to brown, and had probably been bad for 10 years or more. The kerosene coffee can had begun to rust through and was leaking a bit. After draining the containers, they were left in the fume hood to vent for a while, and then closed up and replaced in the flammable cabinet. The next step in the process is filling out the Request for Chemical Disposal and faxing it over to EHS and scheduling a day for pick up. It has taken an interminably long time to get through all of this material, I've made several attempts at it over the last two years, and have sent off about 350 containers of expired, redundant, or dangerous materials for proper disposal (no, we don't pour it down the sink!) This last pickup should be the last for quite some time.

I'm melting... I'm melting. What a world, what a world...
Freeing these bottles and buckets from the bottom of the box was a bugger
This bottle of Starbond cyanoacrylate adhesive makes a succinct case for buying materials in only the quantities that you can use before they expire/self destruct. The resin has eaten through the bottom of the bottle, and the cyanoacrylate was blooming all over the surface, and smelled horrible. While initially it may seem more cost effective to buy materials in quantity, they often expire well before they can be entirely used up. Finding this bottle on the back of a shelf drives home the potential hazards of improper storage, another bottle had already leaked in a cardboard box being prepared for EHS retrieval and adhered the rest of the containers in the box to the bottom.

1 comment:

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