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THE MANAGEMENT AND COST OF LABORATORY WASTE ASSOCIATED WITH THE CONDUCT OF RESEARCH

Report of a Workshop

GOVERNMENT-UNIVERSITY-INDUSTRY RESEARCH ROUNDTABLE

National Academy Press
Washington, D.C.
August 1994



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THE MANAGEMENT AND COST OF LABORATORY WASTE ASSOCIATED WITH THE CONDUCT OF RESEARCH: Report of a Workshop THE MANAGEMENT AND COST OF LABORATORY WASTE ASSOCIATED WITH THE CONDUCT OF RESEARCH Report of a Workshop GOVERNMENT-UNIVERSITY-INDUSTRY RESEARCH ROUNDTABLE National Academy Press Washington, D.C. August 1994

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THE MANAGEMENT AND COST OF LABORATORY WASTE ASSOCIATED WITH THE CONDUCT OF RESEARCH: Report of a Workshop The Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable The Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable is sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. The Research Roundtable was created in 1984 to provide a forum where scientist, engineers, administrators, and policymakers from government, university, and industry can come together on an ongoing basis to explore ways to improve the productivity of the nation's research enterprise. The object is to try to understand issues, to inject imaginative thought into the system, and to provide a setting for discussion and the seeking of common ground. The Roundtable does not make recommendations, or offer specific advice. It does develop options and bring all interested parties together. The uniqueness of the Roundtable is in the breadth of its membership and in the continuity with which it can address issues. Publications are available from: Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable National Academy of Sciences National Academy of Engineering Institute of Medicine 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. (NAS 340) Washington, DC 20418 Printed in the United States of America

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THE MANAGEMENT AND COST OF LABORATORY WASTE ASSOCIATED WITH THE CONDUCT OF RESEARCH: Report of a Workshop PREFACE The Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable has had a longstanding interest in maintaining the vitality of university, industry, and government research while addressing concerns, regulations, and best practices for the production, handling, and disposal of laboratory waste. In addressing this area, the research community recognizes that waste generation from laboratories does occur and might pose a problem. At the same time, it is concerned that regulatory efforts in this area might not take into consideration the special needs of the research community versus that of the large industries for whom the regulations were written. Because the research community generates only one percent of the nation's waste, it is sometimes difficult for it to obtain the attention of regulatory officials even though such wastes are becoming a larger part of the research costs paid by many entities including university, industry, foundations, and government itself. At its February 1991 meeting, the Roundtable Council considered the hypothesis that in the near future the entire academic research and teaching establishment experimental work with chemicals, radioisotopes, and animals may be hampered severely because of issues surrounding the direct environmental impacts of these materials. Industrial and government laboratories will be similarly affected. Council members supported the hypothesis, expressing substantial concern about the difficulties that lie ahead in dealing with this problem. The volume of waste (chemical, radiological, and mixed waste) being generated in research and teaching laboratories is increasing. At the same time, environmental regulations, available dumping areas, and public opinion limit viable waste disposal mechanisms. At a October 1991 meeting, the Roundtable convened a meeting of health and safety officers from university, industry, and government laboratories to reaffirm or take exception to the hypothesis that problems of environmental safety and hazardous waste management may hamper the conduct of research and education and to formulate a statement of the major problems that need to be faced in reconciling laboratory practices and workable and affordable means of waste handling and disposal from their perspective. The group identified a number of concerns and four main areas in which the Roundtable could make a unique and valuable contribution: Regulatory constraints to on-site waste storage, minimization, and treatment, and to mixed waste disposal Public concern and perceptions about the dangers associated with handling and disposal of laboratory waste Sharing best practices for on-site management and treatment of wastes Costs of waste management and how to best charge costs

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THE MANAGEMENT AND COST OF LABORATORY WASTE ASSOCIATED WITH THE CONDUCT OF RESEARCH: Report of a Workshop The conclusions and insights of this group of health and safety officers represents one set of perspectives on the key issues affected by laboratory waste considerations. The Roundtable Council's discussions of this problem have been much broader in scope. And, the Council felt that the Roundtable's unique contribution to this problem could be through a broad-based approach involving research, policy, regulatory, institutional and public perspectives across all three sectors. Thus, the Council wanted to take an additional exploratory, planning step before deciding whether and how to initiate an activity in this problem area. In response, GUIRR hosted a workshop on the management and cost of laboratory waste associated with the conduct of research on February 10 and 11, 1994. The goal was to identify what, if any, role the Roundtable should play in addressing concerns that waste-handling requirements are becoming so stringent and costly that they are having adverse effects on the pace and scope of research. In particular, the participants were encouraged to identify steps that research laboratories might take to improve waste-handling methods, reduce the volume of waste, eliminate nonproductive requirements increase awareness about the importance of proper waste management, and enhance communication among all relevant parties without compromising workplace safety and environmental protection. This report summarizes that workshop. Although a wide variety of issues were discussed during the workshop, three issues continually focused upon were: Performance-based standards Legislative remedies versus regulatory remedies Overlapping jurisdictions Participants felt that a follow-up to the workshop would be desirable and that GUIRR should consider three actions: Mounting of an analogue of the Federal Demonstration Project for laboratory-waste management. Development of a number of products to assist those in research universities. Sponsorship of roundtable sessions for information exchange. Based on this information, GUIRR has decided to establish a working group that will explore these actions. In addition, the audiences for this document include officials from university, industry, and government research laboratories who seek additional mechanisms for improving their practice, and federal and state regulatory officials who seek mechanisms of improving their implementation of regulations in this area. Senior officials from these organizations, who are not routinely involved in waste management at these facilities, may also be able to use this document as a conceptual framework for thinking about how the research laboratory-waste regulation regulations can work more effectively. Also, anyone

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THE MANAGEMENT AND COST OF LABORATORY WASTE ASSOCIATED WITH THE CONDUCT OF RESEARCH: Report of a Workshop interested or involved in these relationships might use this document as a primer to learn from those who have had extensive experience in these areas. I am delighted with what the workshop has accomplished. Led ably by Theodore Brown, Professor Emeritus, Department of Chemistry, University of Illinois and William Raub, Science Advisor to the Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency, they carried out their task with remarkable spirit and commitment. Deborah Stine, Project Director, did an outstanding job of working with workshop members, individually and collectively, and capturing and knitting together their views to create this document. I hope you find this result of their efforts to be of use. Richard F. Celeste Chairman, Research Roundtable August 1994

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