CU, State Regulators Agree To Compliance Order Settlement

Published: May 11, 1997

The University of Colorado and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) have agreed to a plan that brings the CU campuses into full compliance with hazardous waste regulations addressed in an order issued in December 1994.

The compliance plan will be shared with other interested institutions as a model for resolving hazardous waste management issues.

CDPHE had cited the Boulder, Health Sciences Center and Colorado Springs campuses for alleged violations of the Colorado Hazardous Waste Regulations. As a result, the campuses faced maximum penalties totaling $347,400, including $270,000 at Boulder, $70,650 at the Health Sciences Center and $6,750 at Colorado Springs.

Today’s agreement allows the university to offset the penalty assessments by enhancing its hazardous waste management programs beyond regulatory requirements. In response to the original order, the campuses modified their procedures and proposed supplemental environmental projects equivalent in value to the proposed penalties.

Compliance issues in 1994 included campus procedures for labeling and managing hazardous waste, transportation and storage of waste, training, reporting and various documentation requirements. All issues have been addressed to the satisfaction of CDPHE.

As part of the settlement, the university also has agreed to share its compliance plans and documentation to help other institutions, including public school systems, address hazardous waste management issues.

“At no time, either prior to or since the order, have there been any serious injuries or environmental contamination as a result of our hazardous waste policies and procedures on the Boulder campus,” said Dave Wergin, who heads CU-Boulder’s environmental health and safety program. Nevertheless, the new measures will set a higher standard of safety, he said.

New procedures have been implemented since notification of the violations and will continue into the future, according to Wergin. At CU-Boulder, a full-time training coordinator was hired to provide training to all generators of hazardous waste. Training in the handling and reduction of hazardous waste has been provided to more than 400 science faculty, staff and students. Many in this core group will help train others who work with hazardous waste on campus.

Other Boulder campus measures include stepping up inspections to monitor labeling of storage containers and to ensure proper management of stored waste. Procedures and documentation for transporting hazardous waste also have been modified.

In addition, he said, the campuses proposed a number of significant supplementary environmental projects, working in cooperation with CDPHE, that will improve the management of hazardous waste, increase lab safety and eventually decrease the amount of hazardous waste generated on campus.

For example, CU-Boulder will build a facility designed to house new processes for reducing the amount of hazardous waste sent off-site for disposal. Also, film development equipment will be replaced with new electronic developing machines to significantly reduce chemical waste.

The CU Health Sciences Center will produce computerized interactive training programs on hazardous waste regulations. At the Colorado Springs campus, a new computerized system will be installed to help track the campus’s chemical inventory, providing information to help reduce the amount of waste generated and disposed off-site.