Chemical Waste Disposal

Marine Biological Laboratory
Policy No. B.1.2


Initiated by: Environmental, Health and Safety Manager
Approved by: MBL Director/CEO
Date: February 8, 1989
Revision: #10, September 30, 2008

1.0 Introduction

The MBL has many methods of disposing of wastes generated in our facilities. Although brief summaries of all of these methods are included, the specific purpose of this policy is to provide detailed instructions regarding the disposal of waste chemicals.

In the spring/summer of 2005, the Environmental, Health and Safety Department set up satellite accumulation areas (SAAxs) in most labs.  If a SAA is present in your lab, please place your hazardous waste bottles in the designated tubs once your waste bottle is filled.  The SAA will be clearly identified in the lab.

Waste chemicals are generated throughout the MBL, not just in our research laboratories. Waste oil, paints, office chemicals, adhesives, pesticides, cleaning supplies, and maintenance chemicals may be regulated as hazardous wastes and must be discarded properly. No policy can address all of the waste disposal issues which might arise. Please contact the Environmental Health and Safety Office (EH&S) at extension 7424 if you have any questions.

Methods for the disposal of laboratory wastes are summarized below.

1.1.      Regular laboratory trash is collected by our custodians and transported to the SEMASS waste-to-energy incinerator in Rochester, Mass. Because waste is inspected twice after it leaves the MBL we must be concerned about the appearance of the materials we place in our dumpsters. For example, regular trash must not contain any visible biohazard or radioactive symbols.

SEMASS does not accept all wastes. Copies of their regulations are available in the EH&S Office. All batteries must be brought to the Hazwaste Main Accumulation Room for disposal via our hazardous waste vendor because they aren’t accepted by SEMASS.

1.2.      Drain discharges are governed by many federal, state, and local regulations. Solutions must not be poured down drains unless their discharge is safe, responsible, and legal. Waste water is released to the environment with little or no treatment for chemical content.

1.3.      Uncontaminated native marine specimens may be placed in our animal buckets. Contents are collected by custodians and disposed of at sea.

1.4.      Terrestrial animals, non-native marine animals, and preserved or contaminated animals are accumulated in a freezer in Loeb Basement and shipped to a medical waste incinerator.

1.5.      Syringes, needles, razor blades, pasteur pipettes, broken glassware, and other sharps must disposed of in your biological waste receptacle.  Call Safety at ext. 7424 for pickup.  They are sent for incineration as required by Massachusetts Department of Public Health regulations.

1.6.      Biohazard or infectious wastes must be autoclaved or chemically treated to eliminate special hazards and then disposed of appropriately.  Autoclaved wastes containing regulated sharps should be disposed of in your biological waste receptacle.  Full biohazard bags must not be placed in regular trash.

1.7.      Radioactive/Uranium wastes are collected by the Radiation Safety Office.   Uranium salts aren’t regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission but they are classified as radioactive waste.  Please call Safety at Ext. 7424 for pick-up of uranium solutions.

2.0. Definition of Hazardous Waste

There are three ways that waste chemicals may become classified as hazardous wastes.

2.1.      The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) have established official lists of hazardous and acutely hazardous chemicals. Most wastes containing listed chemicals must be discarded as hazardous wastes.

2.2.      In addition to the listed chemicals, any waste is considered hazardous if it has any of the following characteristics:

2.2.1.   Ignitability-All flammable liquids are regulated as hazardous waste. Even small amounts may not be drain discharged. Section 2.4 contains additional information on the disposal of flammable liquids and mixtures.

2.2.2.   Corrosivity-Any liquid which has a pH less than or equal to 2 or more than or equal to 12.5 is a regulated hazardous waste.

2.2.3.   Reactivity-Wastes which are normally unstable, water reactive, or create any explosion risks are regulated.

2.2.4.   Toxicity-Liquids and extracts from solid wastes are regulated if they contain excessive concentrations of any of a list of 40 toxic ingredients. For example, used photographic fixers are hazardous waste because their silver content exceeds 5.0 milligrams per liter.

2.3.      The MBL may choose to use our hazardous waste vendors to discard unregulated materials if we feel that drain discharge or disposal in our regular trash would be irresponsible. Many of the most hazardous materials we use aren’t regulated because they don’t appear on the official lists.

2.4.        Most mixtures containing hazardous ingredients are regulated. A limited number of mixtures are deregulated if they no longer exhibit hazardous characteristics.

2.4.1.   We cannot run faucets or otherwise deliberately dilute wastes to make them safe for drain discharge. One ml of 50% ethanol is a regulated hazardous waste because of its flammability and therefore may not be drain discharged.

3.0. General Instructions

3.1.      Contact the EH&S Office at ext. 7424 for pick-up of chemical waste.

3.2.      Researchers are not charged for routine disposal of used or surplus chemicals. There may be a charge for special services such as the identification of unknowns or the disposal of large inventories of reagents when a laboratory is closed.

3.3       Waste chemicals may not be placed in regular laboratory trash. Well rinsed empty containers may go into regular trash containers but they must be left open. Our custodians will not collect trash which contains closed chemical bottles.

3.4.      Solutions poured down our drains are discharged to the ocean or to groundwater without treatment for their chemical content. Drains must not be used for disposal of hazardous solutions.

3.5.      When transporting chemicals, please use a lab cart and sturdy carrying containers. Cardboard boxes are not appropriate.

4.0. Packaging

4.1.      Waste chemicals must be accumulated in secure, well labeled containers. Please call extension 7424 if you need a supply of empty containers.

4.2.      Most compatible wastes may be mixed. Halogenated solvents should be kept separate from non-halogenated ones to allow for economical incineration. Uranium wastes must not be mixed with any other chemicals.

4.3.      Bottles must not be overfilled.

4.4       Containers used for accumulating wastes must be kept closed except when wastes are being added.

4.5.      All chemicals stored on floors must be placed in plastic tubs to protect against breakage.

4.6.      In the spring/summer of 2005, the Environmental, Health and Safety Department set up satellite accumulation areas (SAAxs) in most labs.  If a SAA is present in your lab, please place your hazardous waste bottles in the designated tubs once your waste bottle is filled.  The SAA will be clearly identified in the lab.

4.7.      We are charged by volume, not weight, for containers given to our hazardous waste vendor. Please try to pack wastes economically.

5.0. Labeling

5.1.      Surplus, unused chemicals in their original containers must be labeled with the name and telephone extension of the generator. One label is sufficient when a single box or tub holds multiple bottles.

5.2.      Chemicals which are not in their original containers must be labeled with one of our special hazardous waste labels. Contact Safety (Ext.7424) to obtain hazardous waste labels.  Bottles must be properly labeled before they are used to accumulate wastes.

5.3.      Descriptions of chemical contents must be specific. Inadequately labeled wastes become unknowns and are very expensive to discard. Unacceptable descriptions include:

“Organic wastes”
“Waste fixatives”
“EM Wastes”
“HPLC Wastes”
“Nitrogen analysis wastes”
“Paint thinner.”
“Bouin’s Solution”

These descriptions are virtually useless. They do not include any listing of the chemical contents.

5.4.      Complete chemical contents must be listed.  Approximate percentages or concentrations are helpful. Solvents, including water, must be listed for all solutions. We can not assume that unlisted solvents are water.

5.5.      Acronyms must not be used.  Do not assume that our waste vendors know what DDD or DAB is.

5.6.      Trade names should be avoided. When they are used, you must list the complete name and manufacturer.

5.7.      Solution names such as “Bouin’s Fixative” are not acceptable. Any name that appears in the Merck Index is acceptable.

5.8.      Unknowns will not be accepted because analysis and disposal are expensive. Please contact the EH&S Office (x7424) if you have an unknown. Please help avoid unknowns by maintaining labels on commercial chemicals, by labeling all laboratory solutions, including water, and by cleaning out labs carefully when you leave the MBL.

6.0 Special Wastes

6.1.      Contact Safety (x7424) to pick up your used photographic fixers.

6.2.      Used Kodak and Picker developers are not regulated and may be drain discharged. Call the EH&S Office for advice on other photographic chemicals.

6.3.      Other acutely hazardous chemicals in use at the MBL include acrolein, allyl alcohol, arsenic salts, picric acid, and selected pesticides. If you expect to generate acutely hazardous wastes, please contact the EH&S Office for instructions.

7.0 Household Wastes

7.1.      Household hazardous wastes generated by members of the MBL community should be disposed of in the town that you live in during hazardous waste collection day.  Most towns take most of these materials at no cost to you.  The MBL is NOT an approved facility for accepting household hazardous waste per the state of Massachusetts DEP.

7.2.      Waste motor oil and old automotive batteries should be accepted by each town during hazardous waste collection day.

8.0 Policy Clarification and Updates:

If these instructions are followed, we should be able to deal responsibly with all of the chemical wastes generated at the MBL. Disposal costs and public concerns about waste disposal are extremely high. We must make a unified effort to ensure that we have responsible waste disposal practices.

Policy clarification and updates are available from the Environmental, Health and Safety Manager  (508) 289-7424, MBL ext. 7424.