Hazardous Materials Handling Facility

by: Gerard Reuss, Jasmine Budak, Julie Ellison, Jennifer Niece

Course: ERS 285, 1997
Supervisor: Paul Kay


Sustainability is an important concept in the field of environmental studies, and it can be worked towards in many different ways. In order to assess sustainability, the systems involved in day to day lifestyles must be understood. One of these systems, present on the University of Waterloo campus, is the disposal of hazardous waste.

The irresponsible treatment of hazardous materials can pose health risks to humans both in and outside of the workplace. Hazardous waste has the potential to contaminate ecosystems, thereby entering the food chain and affecting human health and ecosystem integrity. Diligence is necessary in handling these materials to prevent such contamination.

The University of Waterloo's Hazardous Materials Handling Facility (HMHF) is designed to accept and deal with all hazardous materials that are generated in on-campus labs, studios and health care facilities. An audit was performed on the HMHF to ensure that hazardous materials on campus are being handled in the safest manner possible, in accordance with government protocols. The audit was based on applicable municipal by-laws, the Fire Code of Canada, and the Environmental Protection Act, the Atomic Energy Control Act, and Guidelines for the Management of Biomedical Waste in Canada. Results of this study were based on personal observations and interviews with the HMHF and U of W Safety Office staff. For the purposes of this study, it was assumed that the government standards were designed to promote sustainability.

Additional information to supplement the survey was collected through three tours of the facility, and attendance on a weekly pickup around campus. The tours were guided by both Safety Office staff and HMHF staff on separate occasions, and the pickup was led by Scott Paterson of the HMHF.

Results of personal observations during the tours and pickup, as well as survey results were compiled to create an overall understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the hazardous materials handling system. The HMHF was found to be in compliance with 64.7% of the standards evaluated. Areas for improvement include the storage of waste oil, storage of flammable/combustible materials and safety precautions involving the transportation of hazardous materials. Recommendations have been made to assist the HMHF to improve the rate of compliance with the standards evaluated in this study.

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Last updated: August 29, 1997 plc