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The Berkeley Lab Waste Management policy is to:
This chapter provides general information on the management of the following kinds of wastes:
This chapter does not apply to solid or liquid sanitary wastes.
This chapter also provides guidance on how to find more specific information on selected waste management topics and how to contact Waste Management personnel for consultations on specific topics.
Hazardous, radioactive, mixed, and medical/biohazardous wastes are generated during routine research and support activities at Berkeley Lab. Waste generators are responsible for accurate and complete characterization of their wastes, for compliant management of them within their workplaces, and for minimizing the amount of waste generated. Consult the following publications and your Generator Assistant for additional information:
The first step in waste disposal is to determine if your waste is hazardous, radioactive, mixed, or medical/biohazardous.
It is vitally important that wastes be accurately and completely characterized. Doing this properly is the generator's responsibility. If waste is characterized improperly, it may be shipped to an inappropriate facility, compromising the public health and safety.
Nitric acid waste solutions that would normally be collected in an SAA must be handled following the rules below. These requirements below are in addition to any rules that apply to the use of these chemicals, such as segregation, PPE requirements, safe work practices, and work authorizations.
Waste that contains organic constituents must never be added to a nitric acid waste container, and waste that contains nitric acid must never be added to an organic solvent waste container. These mixtures can generate significant amounts of gaseous products that have caused pressure explosions in closed containers.
It is the responsibility of the waste generator to ensure that there are no ongoing reactions in any waste container that result in a pressure buildup within the container. Where reactions of any type generate pressure, appropriate quenching steps must be incorporated to terminate such reactions. In no case can a vented cap be used as a control mechanism to relieve pressure buildup in a waste container.
Nitric Acid (HNO3) Waste Solutions (Including Aqua Regia Mixtures)
Solutions with organic matter or metallic impurities. Any waste solution that results from a process requiring the mixing of nitric acid and organic chemicals or that contains nitric acid and metallic impurities from a process such as cleaning or etching may not be stored in an SAA. Waste mixtures of this type must be neutralized using a Waste Management Group (WMG) approved benchhtop treatment procedure. The neutralization step must be completed immediately upon completion of the experimental procedure. The benchtop treatment requirements and a procedure template are located at http://www.lbl.gov/ehs/waste/wm_benchtop.shtml. The neutralization step must be completed immediately upon completion of the experimental procedure. In general, this means that the waste must be treated before leaving for the day. Contact your Waste Generator Assistant for guidance.
Solutions with no organics or metal impurities. Reaction mixtures that contain nitric acid or aqueous nitric acid solutions without metallic or organic impurities and have been declared as waste and contain greater than 5% nitric acid by weight (0.8 M) may not be stored as a waste in any SAA. In the absence of actual concentration information, the waste may not be stored in an SAA if the pH is less than 1 as determined by a pH meter or narrow range pH paper.
Waste of this type must either be carefully diluted to reduce the concentration of the nitric acid to 5% or, in the absence of actual concentration information, neutralized using a WMG approved-benchtop treatment procedure. Contact your Waste Generator Assistant for guidance.
An example procedure is located at http://www.lbl.gov/ehs/waste/doc/Benchtop_Nitric_Kisielowski.pdf.
Surplus unused nitric acid purchased and kept in the original, manufacturer’s container and declared as waste is the only exception to the above rules. In this case, the bottle must be tightly closed, sealed with tape to prevent the addition of any other substances, and have a completed Hazardous Waste label. These solutions must be stored in an SAA that is totally separate from an SAA that stores organic waste mixtures such as spent solvents. Separate secondary containment trays for these waste types stored in the same SAA do not meet the required separation criteria.
Note: Acid dilution/neutralization is exothermic and potentially hazardous. The hazards and controls of these processes are described in the Waste Management Group Benchtop Treatment Requirements.
All generators are required to set up special waste storage areas and follow all regulations while the waste is in the generator area, including:
Specific waste storage areas include:
Medical/biohazardous wastes are transferred by the generator from the generator's laboratory to an approved medical waste pickup site, where they are picked up by an outside contractor. Regulated medical waste, stored in red biohazardous bags, must be transferred from the generator’s laboratory weekly. Unregulated biohazardous waste, stored in clear biohazardous bags, does not need to be transferred weekly; it should be transferred when the container is full or if there is a noxious odor.
EH&S's Waste Management personnel at Berkeley Lab are responsible for:
The following training is required for generators of hazardous, radioactive, mixed, and medical/biohazardous wastes.
Acutely hazardous waste is any waste that is listed in 22 CCR, Chapter 11, Article 4, as an EPA-defined "P-listed" hazardous waste. These wastes typically are toxic or reactive. Acutely hazardous waste is a federal definition, whereas extremely hazardous waste (see definition below) is a State of California definition.
Biohazardous waste is waste that requires biological inactivation in an approved manner prior to final disposal, and includes, but is not limited to, the following discarded items:
More information can be found at the Medical/Biohazardous Waste Generator Guidelines located on EH&S's Waste Management Web site.
Characterization is the detailed documentation of the waste constituents such that the appropriate treatment, storage, and disposal decisions can be made. Characterization can include process knowledge (see definition below), required analyses, or written documentation (log books, formulas, etc.).
Extremely hazardous waste is any hazardous waste or mixture of hazardous wastes that, if human exposure should occur, may likely result in death, disabling personal injury, or serious illness because of its quantity, concentration, or chemical characteristics. (From 22 CCR 66260.10.)
Hazardous waste is defined as:
Process knowledge means the ability of the generator to characterize waste based on the chemical materials from which the waste was derived or the process by which the waste was generated. It also means being able to verify the characterization with the documented procedures used and data accumulated during the waste-generation process.
Low-level waste is waste containing radioactivity distinguishable from background levels that is not classified as high-level waste, transuranic waste, spent nuclear fuel, or byproduct material, as defined in DOE Order 435.1. At LBNL, low-level waste is divided into several different categories, described in LBNL/PUB-3092, Guidelines for Generators to Meet HWHF Acceptance Requirements for Hazardous, Radioactive, and Mixed Wastes at Berkeley Lab.
Medical waste, according to federal and California laws, refers to waste that is generated or produced as a result of the diagnosis, treatment, or immunization of humans or animals; in research pertaining to the treatment, diagnosis, or immunization of humans or animals; or in the production or testing of biologicals (medicinal preparations made from living organisms and their products including serums, vaccines, and anti-toxins) and is either:
Mixed medical waste is any mixture of medical and nonmedical waste, with the following exceptions:
Mixed waste is any radioactive waste that is also a hazardous waste.
Pathological waste is defined at Berkeley Lab as any recognizable human or animal body part and tissue. The most common pathological waste found at Berkeley Lab is animal carcasses.
No path to disposal waste (NDP) is any waste for which no disposal facility currently exists.
A Radioactive Materials Area (RMA) is an area where the potential exists for contamination due to the presence of unencapsulated or unconfined radioactive materials or an area that is exposed to beams or other sources of particles (neutrons, protons, etc.) capable of causing activation.
A Satellite Accumulation Area (SAA) is an area in an individual laboratory, shop, or other facility designated by the generator for the accumulation of waste, not to exceed 208 liters (55 gallons) of hazardous waste or 0.95 liter (1 quart) of extremely or acutely hazardous waste. The area must be at or near the point of waste generation and under control of the person generating the waste.
Sharps are devices having acute rigid corners, edges, or projections capable of piercing or cutting the skin. These include both regulated (contaminated with biohazardous waste) and sharps that pose a safety hazard.
Transuranic wastes are any wastes that, without regard to source or form, are contaminated with alpha-emitting transuranium radionuclides (elements 93 and higher) with half-lives greater than 20 years and concentrations greater than 100 nCi/g at the time of assay. Radium sources and U-233 are also considered to be transuranic wastes. Radioactive waste with quantities of transuranic radionuclides in concentrations of 100 nCi/g of waste or less is considered to be low-level waste.
A Waste Accumulation Area (WAA) is an officially designated area for the accumulation and storage of large quantities of hazardous waste.
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