Oct 16, 2007

Laboratory holds Canned Air Disposal day

Thanks to the success of the recent Canned Air Day, the Laboratory saved an estimated $200,000 in unnecessary hazardous waste disposal costs this year.

The event was designed to collect, recycle, and dispose of canned air containers at the Laboratory. Canned air has been widely used at the Laboratory for cleaning computer keyboards. Its use for these non-programmatic purposes, however, is problematic because it is classified as a cryogen and an explosive. As a result, containers must be disposed as a hazardous waste under Resource Recovery and Conservation Act and Department of Transportation requirements. RCRA disposal is regulated by the New Mexico Environment Department, and improper disposal can lead to violations and fines for the Laboratory.
A $23-dollar can of air costs about $217 to properly dispose, and one can typically is used four to five times for keyboard cleaning applications.
Keyboards can be cleaned in a much more environmentally friendly and cost-effective manner using a lint-free cloth, cotton swabs or an Underwriters Laboratory (UL)-approved electric duster or “Data Vac.”

Canned air must be bar-coded for inclusion in the Laboratory’s annual hazardous chemical inventory. Laboratory employees are urged to avoid ordering canned air unless it is necessary for programmatic work. Those who have canned air without a bar code should immediately contact IH at 7-924, 7-7807 or by e-mail at chemlog@lanl.gov so it can be added to the owner’s chemical inventory.

The event collected 303 cans for proper disposal, as well as 103 full cans that will be redistributed for programmatic applications. The majority of the collected cans did not appear on the Lab’s ChemLog Inventory, so locating them helped the institution avoid potential hazardous waste compliance violations. An earlier event netted some 400 cans of air. Disposal-cost savings to the Laboratory from each event was about $100,000.

The Laboratory plans another Canned Air Day later this year after IH has completed and assessed its chemical inventory. Employees who want to dispose of canned air during the next Canned Air Day should write to cleanitout@lanl.gov by e-mail.

The Environmental Management System (ENV-RRO) and Industrial Hygiene (IH) sponsored Canned Air Day at the Laboratory.

Does anyone else smell a rat? Besides me, that is...
  • The price LANL pays for a can of air is three times higher than the most expensive supplier I could find.
  • I had no luck finding the regulations on disposal, so I called the New Mexico Environment Department and asked how to dispose of the empty cans. I was told I could throw them in the trash, although they suggested that I recycle the cans if they are empty.
So what is the rest of the story?

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Possibly linked to this classification and who makes it?

"Its use for these non-programmatic purposes, however, is problematic because it is classified as a cryogen and an explosive."

Anonymous said...

All talc powder and glue must now be bar-coded and tracked in the Chem inventory at LANL. That's right, having talc powder at LANL means filling out paperwork and being sure you're up to snuff with the training required to handle this 'dangerous' substance. Truly amazing!

Pinky and The Brain said...

I wonder what the disposal cost is for an empty tube of JB Weld.

Gussie Fink-Nottle said...

That was tacky, Pinky.

--Gus

Anonymous said...

What are they gonna do when they realize that all the drinking fountains are dispensing DHMO?

Anonymous said...

Well, not exactly pure DHMO. There are traces of HE and hexavalent chromium to keep it from being too bland.

Anonymous said...

gee, how do you spend $217 disposing of a steel can that's full of .... air? That's a heroic amount of overhead. Anybody know what goes into it? Do they hire obscure religious figures to perform a ceremony?

Would it cost more to dispose of the can if there were no can involved, but just the air? How does the lab dispose of air, anyway? Recycle it, warm it, feed it up to NNSA? We need a policy for the air that comes from the lab!

Anonymous said...

This canned air disposal stuff is interesting, no argument, but I wonder if we could get back to the subject of LANL's outrageous overhead costs.

Oh, wait a minute...

Anonymous said...

YOu know, it is actually embarrassing that LANL is admitting their f'd-up system is a triumph. We waste money on getting rid of air that you can buy after 5pm and throw in the garbage can at home! Kinda like batteries and light bulbs - maybe the idiots that are wasting all this money instead of taking a logical approach to waste should be RIFed ... certainly not the sharpest tools in the shed.

Anonymous said...

ridiculous as this all seems, the lab is jumping through the same hoops that any govt contractor must jump through to satisfy stupid, gone overboard environmental requirements and procurement directives.... I wonder how many FTEs could avoid being riffed without this BS?

Anonymous said...

that's right let's stick up for the "support" staff. common sense can push back - shocker, it has been known to happen prior to 2004.

Anonymous said...

Human bodies occasionally emit uncontrollable farts that are full of combustible methane. Perhaps everyone who works at LANL should be bar-coded on the forehead. Nah, on second thought, let's just have a RIF day where we can carefully dispose of all of them.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of onerous regulations (environmental in this case), what about the Lab's (or is it DOE's) onerous regulations regarding computer passwords and administration?

All of the sudden, I'm expected to sign a form indicating I'm in full compliance with a new policy that's suddenly been "implemented", which of course, I am not.

No computer is to be administered by the user of that computer? WTF?
Maybe for your average Windows using office worker who only does spread sheets and word processing, but engineers and scientists use computers for, um, engineering and science. We require fine contol over the tools of our trade. Who the hell has the time or patience to go bug a computer control nazi everytime you need to do something that requires administrative access (like install software, dick with device drivers, change system I/O parameters, etc.)? This is especially true of non-Windows computers, like Linux. It's bad enough not having Admin access on a Windows box, but I can't imagine my Linux box being useful to me if I don't have root access when I need it.

OK, that had nothing to do with canned air, just hot air.

Pinky and The Brain said...

Maybe the policy is poorly worded and they meant don't use the privileged account as a user account?

Anonymous said...

New directive from CSO Hagengruber, as of last Thursday, Oct 11, that must be in place as soon as possible. All unclassified machines connected to the yellow network must have a system administrator that is not the user. The user can also have system level access with documented approval of management and the system administrator.

If you're a foreign national, to get system admin access you will need approvals all the way through LASO.

Anonymous said...

"New directive from CSO Hagengruber"

Please tell me, please, that this stupidity is restricted to LANL. CSO of LANL right?

Anonymous said...

Do not fear, 8:57 PM. The most stupid policies always start first at LANL these days, so have no worries about your lab. LANL is first in the nation for stupid policies.

The idea is to keep them coming until all useful work at LANL gets completely halted. Support and overhead division really eat this stuff up because they think it makes them look incredibly useful to top level LANS management, and the dimwits in LANS management don't know the difference between shit and shinola.

Anonymous said...

"The idea is to keep them coming until all useful work at LANL gets completely halted."

Yes, and halt work it has. All the foreign nationals in C-Division are banned from using instruments connected to computers. This has really pissed off postdocs that could not get any work done today. Nice way to treat your "future of science". Guess we now know what LANS and its "management" thinks of foreign nationals.

Anonymous said...

Go express your concerns to Hagengruber, he's all ears and wants to hear every detail of how this is going to impact programs. NOT!! Roger Hagengruber has become a petulant little weenie, as judged by his Oct 17 follow up memo where he complains about the range of responses from "seeking to inform the process to filing a legal brief."

He also admits that he has known about this requirement since December but only decided to implement it this week because of next week's cybersecurity audits.

Anonymous said...

Pinky and the Brain, is there any chance we can have a thread about how Lab operations and the technical workforce have been negatively impacted by the Hagengruber mandate? I know that files have been corrupted and permanently ruined, foreign nationals have been excluded from instrumentation, and finally, LANCE's computer system is on the line. Maybe we should discuss?

Pinky and The Brain said...

That's a great idea. I'd do it right now if I had a copy of the mandate handy. Let me think for a while about how I could word the post.