Dartmouth's Office of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) usually helps clients across the College by providing education about and oversight of hazardous materials management. But recently, the EHS team responded to a call from the science department at Hanover High School—which was beginning an extensive renovation.
"Their needs are similar to those of our instructional labs," says Michael Blayney, director of EHS. "They are different in that they don't have the kind or number of teaching labs we have, but the issues are essentially the same. Some of the materials they work with can harm individuals and threaten the environment or public safety. They have to be managed carefully and disposed of correctly. We at EHS see the school's needs as part of our responsibility too. You don't want hazardous materials mismanaged because our local fire departments inevitably must deal with the consequences."
While preparing for the renovations at Hanover High two years ago, the science teachers found a potentially explosive container of expired ether. With permission from the N.H. Department of Environmental Services, a licensed waste company properly stabilized the container for transport and eventual disposal. Also removed from the school were several old bottles of acids and other hazardous substances. EHS offered advice and assistance to the school in preparing their wastes for disposal and is now helping the school with advice and supplies to safely store their chemical inventory and manage chemical wastes. The final step will be working with the Hanover Fire Department to plan for emergency response.
"We're grateful that they are so willing to help us out," says Dan Falcone, science coordinator at Hanover High. "They go out of their way to say, 'We're here for you and don't hesitate to call if you have questions.' They are a great resource."
Blayney helped to found the New Hampshire College and University Compliance Assistance Cooperative, a joint effort of Dartmouth and the University of New Hampshire. The cooperative "is meant to help all the colleges and universities in New Hampshire," explains Blayney, "but it can also be a model for secondary schools and surrounding local communities." One of the first of its kind in higher education, the NHC3UA works to provide inspection, audit, training, and advocacy for EHS issues in higher education in New Hampshire.
By BRUCE WOOD
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Last Updated: 12/17/08