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Hazardous Waste

JUNE 2017


A waste is a material no longer used for its original intended purpose and is set aside for disposal. “Hazardous Waste” is defined by the Federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) as being a waste, or combination of wastes, that because of its quantity, concentration or physical, chemical or infectious characteristics may cause or significantly contribute to an increase in serious irreversible, or incapacitating reversible illness or pose a substantial present or potential hazard to human health, safety or welfare or to the environment when improperly treated, stored transported, used or disposed of or otherwise managed. Information on how to determine a hazardous waste can be located on our web site at: Hazardous Waste Determination Information. We strongly recommend you call our office if you are unsure whether your waste should be classified as a hazardous waste.

Scheduling Disposal.
Hazardous chemical wastes are currently picked-up from laboratories every Tuesday and Thursday for generators of waste that have filled out our online hazardous waste disposal request form. Remember, your waste can not be picked-up unless you submit the form indicating your name, phone number, location, and quantity and type of hazardous waste you have ready for disposal.  Filled or unwanted wastes must be removed from the laboratory within three days so it is important that you contact us once this occurs.

Appropiate Containers.
All waste must be put into appropriate containers such as glass bottles, plastic/polyethylene containers, or metal containers holding original contents only. No metal containers holding mixed solvents or other material, including water, that was not originally in the container will be accepted. The reason for this is that metal cans holding mixed chemicals have corroded and have caused significant spills in the past. Exceptions to this rule must be approved by EHS. Containers must be compatible with the hazardous waste being accumulated. Secure tops must be kept on containers at all times unless adding or removing waste. Funnels are only allowed when containers are being filled. The maximum size allowed for containers is 55 gallons for hazardous waste and one quart for acutely hazardous waste (see our hazardous waste determination information page for additional information).

All wastes that are hazardous must be clearly identified as “hazardous waste” on the label. In addition, the date when the waste container was filled or no longer needed, the physical hazards of the waste (e.g. corrosive), as well as an identification of the chemicals or chemical mixtures must be put on the label. Hazardous waste disposal labels are available through EHS and should be used when declaring a material a hazardous waste. They are available by either calling our office at x2769, requesting some using our online form or downloading them from our website.

Designated Satellite Accumulation Area.
An appropriate designated “Satellite Accumulation Area” must be established to accumulate or store all hazardous waste. These must be at or near the point of generation. This area can be established on a bench top, fume hood, shelving unit or cabinet. If the material is flammable or combustible, this waste should be stored in a flammable storage cabinet to keep within fire code restrictions. It is recommended that hazardous waste, like other chemicals, should not be stored on the floor unless there is secondary containment, and they are away from exits and egresses. If a leak of hazardous waste could lead to a release into a floor drain or sink, then secondary containment will be required in all cases. Designated storage areas must be inspected by the generator of the waste on a weekly basis. A person(s) must be assigned to make these inspections and be identified on the “Satellite Accumulation Area” posting.

Emergency Spill Responses.
John Price and Steven Brehio (x2769 – day or x3333 – 24 hour coverage) are Emergency Coordinators for the University and must be contacted in the event of a major (a threat to public health, safety or the environment) spill or other emergency. Fire extinguishers are located in each laboratory and fire alarms are located in hallways and and should be used as necessary. The Boston Fire Department can be reached by calling the Northeastern University Public Safety Division emergency number at x3333. Laboratories or departments should have spill kits available to handle small routine spills. Any large or dangerous spills that are beyond the laboratory workers ability to handle it, or is a hazard to health, safety or the environment must not be handled by untrained personnel. In such a situation, the University’s emergency number (x3333) should be called, so appropriate emergency spill response can be made. This number is posted at the entrance to every laboratory door on Campus. If it appears necessary that the building should be evacuated because of the extent of the spill, then the fire alarm should also be pulled. During such an emergency please make sure you are available, so you may report information on the nature of the spill to emergency responders. If laboratory workers handle a small spill they should consult with EHS to confirm whether the material recovered should be considered a hazardous waste.

All employees involved in the generation or management of hazardous waste are required to be appropriately trained. This training is required to take place within six months of your hire and annually thereafter. Upcoming training dates are posted in the training section of the EHS website. In addition to this formal training, EHS has a hazardous waste training slide show that you can view on the Hazardous Waste Management section of this website..

Improper Disposal.
Do not use the sinks or rubbish cans as methods for hazardous waste disposal as this is illegal under federal, state and local laws. Laboratories and departments do not incur any costs for routine hazardous waste disposal directly. However, there are costs to everyone’s health, safety and the environment if wastes are improperly disposed of.

Waste Minimization.
The U.S. Congress has made waste minimization a national policy and goal of each waste generator. You as a user of chemicals, have the responsibility to minimize the waste you generate. Waste minimization has benefits such as decreasing your exposure to hazardous substances, protection of the environment, and the overall reduction in the cost of disposal which frequently can exceed the original cost of the chemical by 4 to 20 times. Waste minimization includes such things as changing procedures, reducing scale and substituting materials. In addition, if you have chemicals that you no longer have a use for and feel it could be recycled within the University, please contact EHS. A Chemical Recycling Redistribution List, is now available on the Hazardous Waste Management section of the EHS website, to allow chemicals to be reused across campus rather than being disposed of as a hazardous waste.

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