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Campus News
Your faculty and staff news since 1965
Current Issue: February 17, 2003
Volume 38, Number 14

U honored for pollution prevention

By Steve Carr

UNM was recently recognized with the Pollution Prevention Award of Excellence for its campus-wide pollution prevention activities by the Industrial Pretreatment Program and Pollution Prevention Program, a subdivision of the City of Albuquerque’s Public Works Department.

The award criterion includes superior performance above and beyond regulatory requirements that accomplish the true spirit and intent of pollution prevention.

“This award wouldn’t be possible without the help of various entities across campus who have received certifications for their participation in the campus five parts per million (PPM) Silver or Pollution Prevention programs,” said Linda McCormick, pollution prevention specialist with Safety, Health & Environmental Affairs (SHEA).

McCormick accepted the award at a recent City Council meeting on behalf of the University and SHEA where the City of Albuquerque recognized UNM’s pollution prevention accomplishments during fiscal year 2001-02. Some of the departments involved in the program that helped UNM win the award include art & art history, biology, chemistry and the physical plant’s grounds and landscaping division.

“It’s really fun and exciting to go and learn what’s going on around campus on a 'chemical user' level,” said McCormick. “We have a lot of interaction with faculty, staff and students throughout campus and we also serve as a knowledge base for resource redistribution between areas on campus.”

In UNM’s Pollution Prevention Report, sent to the city in early-January, McCormick cited a number of program highlights where the University has made significant strides. These include removal of significant amounts of elemental mercury across campus for recycling; implementation of a free mercury thermometer replacement program with non-mercury thermometers; recycling of “waste” gas cylinders by manufacturers in the United States saving UNM an estimated $40,000 on cylinder disposal; a surplus chemical program that redistributed more than 2,100 pounds of chemicals; and the reclamation and recycling of four tons of silver from photographic negatives.

In May 2002, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Pollution Prevention between the City of Albuquerque and UNM was signed which implied a high level of trust in the University to go above and beyond regulatory requirements. Prior to this agreement, UNM was required to maintain a Wastewater Discharge Permit that included semiannual reporting by UNM and semiannual monitoring by the city of UNM’s wastewater discharge at six locations throughout campus. Wastewater samples were analyzed for corrosives (i.e. pH), organic chemicals, metals and temperature. As a result of the MOU, the Wastewater Discharge Permit was inactivated by the city.

The whole process was made possible through the U.S. EPA’s Excellence in Leadership (XL) Pilot Project which the city entered into in February 2000 and is intended to encourage enhanced, innovative, and overall superior environmental management at industries, businesses and institutions. The city also directly benefits by being able to shift much needed resources to pollution prevention activities not otherwise able to be addressed at other locations in the city, said McCormick.

“Due to UNM’s excellent record with respect to semiannualreporting and wastewater discharge quality, the city no longer requires a wastewater discharge permit,” said McCormick. “They expressed to us that they have confidence we are doing the right thing.”