Environmental Management System
Control of Potential Environmental Impacts
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has examined its operations to determine which categories of environmental impacts (referred to as "aspects" in the ISO 14001 standard) have the greatest potential to occur and hence are most deserving of attention and control through our Environmental Management System. The aspects identified are shown below along with the controls the EMS uses to minimize the potential impact of those aspects.
Chemical Use and Storage: As a research laboratory, PNNL has many buildings where chemicals are stored and used during research operations and maintenance activities. Controls used to avoid potential hazards include training, inventory control procedures, approvals for chemical ordering, and procedures for conducting work with chemicals that include safety requirements.
Regulated Waste Generation: The use of chemical and radioactive materials, along with normal maintenance activities, creates some waste streams that are regulated as dangerous waste, radioactive waste, or both dangerous and radioactive (mixed waste). These wastes are subject to regulations of the Washington Department of Ecology (for dangerous and mixed waste) and the U.S. Department of Energy (for radioactive and mixed waste). Along with the controls imposed by these requirements, we also seek to reduce the amount of these waste types generated by reviewing projects to reduce or eliminate the use of materials that will cause the project's waste to be regulated. Sometimes we treat the waste we generate to make it less hazardous or non-hazardous for disposal.
Radioactive Material Use and Storage: Some of our experiments involve the use of radioactive materials. We restrict access to areas where this type of work is going on, and those who do enter must have special training. Radioactive materials are labeled and controlled, and the same types of controls used for chemical use and storage are applied to radioactive material work as well.
Emissions to Air: For safety, many of our laboratories contain fume hoods that prevent researchers from being exposed to the materials they work with. We also have air emissions from vehicle exhaust and boilers, and potential emissions can come from refrigeration systems, fire suppression systems, and demolition operations. Our potential air emissions are evaluated, and we obtain permits for them when required. The controls on the management of chemicals, radioactive materials, and regulated waste seek to minimize our air emissions.
Effluents to Water: Our discharges of water to the environment from laboratories to sewer systems and to dry wells for stormwater in parking lots are regulated by state and local permits and/or regulations. We have a program to review discharges to assure that they conform to these regulations and permits. We also seek to minimize discharges.
Physical Interaction with Environment: In order to understand our environment and perform environmental monitoring, some of our projects are conducted outdoors. Facility maintenance and modification also may involve outdoor work. Any work proposed to be conducted outdoors is reviewed to assure protection of the environment and minimize any potential impacts.
Energy Use: Using energy judiciously is a prime objective of the laboratory as it seeks to minimize the impact of laboratory operations. PNNL maintains energy reduction goals and implements actions to reduce energy consumption across the laboratory. See PNNL's Energy and Water Management.
Solid Waste Generation: The use of office products, electronics, and equipment, along with construction, demolition and normal maintenance activities, creates non-regulated solid waste streams. We reduce or eliminate environmental hazards, conserve environmental resources, and maximize operational sustainability through the incorporation of electronic stewardship practices, reusing materials and by operating recycling programs. We also seek opportunities to further reduce degradation and depletion of environmental resources by purchasing environmentally friendly items (e.g., that contain recycled content).
Water Use: We recognize the value of water in the Eastern Washington environment. PNNL has made water conservation a key element of its Facility Energy Management Plan. See Sustaniable PNNL. PNNL maintains water use reduction goals and implements actions to reduce water consumption across the laboratory.
Fuel Usage: PNNL was instrumental in obtaining the first bio-fuel filling station in Richland, Washington. We seek to minimize the use of petroleum-based fuels by purchasing new vehicles that will utilize alternative fuels such as Ethanol-85 and replacing low fuel efficiency vehicles with higher fuel efficiency ones including hybrids. We also purchase bio-diesel for generators, where appropriate.
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