Environmental projects to cost UH $1.2 million
By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer
The University of Hawai'i will spend $1.2 million on environmental projects as part of a February 2001 settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for hazardous waste violations at the university.
The agreement was announced yesterday by the EPA and state Department of Health and includes $505,000 in fines to be paid to the federal and state governments. The university will have three years to complete the projects.
The fines were the result of a 1997 investigation into improper storing and labeling of toxic chemicals at the Manoa campus. In October 1997, EPA and state Health inspectors found chemicals including flammables, corrosives, poison, mercury and hundreds of other unknown substances at the university's Manoa campus.
Health officials also inspected other facilities within the University of Hawai'i system and found similar violations at the Kaua'i Agricultural Center and the Waiakea Agricultural Experiment Station in Hilo.
The university has completed a $288,000 pollution prevention and waste minimization project and performed a compliance audit of its facilities. Jeff Scott, EPA director of hazardous waste programs in the Pacific Southwest, said the settlement will "make the university a model for reducing pollution and waste."
Tom Arizumi, chief of the Health Department's environmental management division, said everyone at the university will benefit from the projects.
"We encourage all of the regulated community to learn from the university's example and look to pollution prevention as a way to improve their practices, save money and protect the environment," Arizumi said.
The projects include:
- $502,000 to convert the undergraduate organic chemistry curriculum to "microscale chemistry." This will require smaller quantities of chemicals and special glassware, which should result in less waste and exposure to students.
- $207,000 to convert the Honolulu Community College print shop to a digital printing system. This will eliminate nearly all printing-related wastes, including silver-based developers, inks and solvents, the EPA said.
- $110,000 to develop new techniques and equipment to improve paint spray efficiency in auto body repair classes. The EPA said this should reduce paint and solvent use, waste, and air emissions of volatile organic compounds.
- $47,000 to establish a program to remove and replace equipment that contains mercury.
In addition to the projects, the university will hire a coordinator to oversee the projects.