Saturday, August 20, 2005

DEQ fines UO over toxic waste

Robin's Commentary

Eugene Oregon has a reputation of being just "out there" at times. For example, Eugene is a "nuclear free zone" and has turned away businesses because they make bolts that may be used in nuclear weapons

In today's Eugene daily dead fish wrapperlink there was an article about the state Department of Environmental Quality fining the University of Oregon $3600 from mishandling of hazardous waste.
I have to admit, that this really got my attention.
"A three-day state inspection of the campus in October revealed eight instances where workers had mismanaged potentially hazardous waste, posing a risk that the ways could be released into the environmentally damaging effects, said Susan Shewczyk, a state inspector."
Oh My God! What type of hazardous waste does the University of Oregon have? I heard rumors at one time that they used to have an open pit reactor, could that be it? plutonium?

State inspectors found university employees uncertain of...
Whether rags in a container were hazardous,
How old brake fluid was being disposed,
Open containers of paint waste, apparently abandoned and a potential threat to air quality.

In one instance, an arts instructor attempting to be resourceful disposed of potentially hazardous material in a heated kiln.

The fines are "not horrendous," Shewczyk added, and the U of O remains a leader in pollution prevention and recycling.

"You're at the top of their field," Shewczyk said. However, federal hazardous waste disposal law, which the state and forces, "makes you look at some very minor, detailed things that you still have to comply with," she said.

The University generates more than 2200 pounds of hazardous waste per month.

I can agree that it is newsworthy when a university is fined for violations of air quality and hazardous wastes, but I really have to wonder what the point was for Eugene's daily dead fish wrapper with this article.

On the other hand, maybe I am just having trouble understanding the big picture here.


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