Abandoned chemicals in laboratories create unsafe and non-compliant conditions. Additionally, these orphan materials are expensive and time consuming to manage. Therefore, it is imperative that principal investigators and laboratory staff take responsibility for properly decommissioning their laboratories. Before leaving your laboratory or assigned space, all unwanted chemicals, research samples, and chemical waste must be disposed following the normal hazardous material pickup request process. Please note that you are responsible for all materials in your area, including materials you purchased, created, or may have inherited from former laboratory occupants. The role of REM is to provide consultation and assistance with the decommissioning process. We will ease the process as much as practicable, and then remove the materials once we receive the pickup request. If materials are abandoned by laboratory occupants it is the department's responsibility to identify unwanted materials, prepare and submit a request for those materials.
The decommissioning process can be time consuming for researchers, but is necessary to maintain a safe and healthy work environment. REM has limited capabilities for removing large volumes of materials in a short period of time. The following are recommendations to ease the process as much as possible:
- Develop a departmental, college or school policy regarding proper laboratory decommissioning procedures.
- Plan ahead. The decommissioning process can take days to weeks. If there are time-driven deadlines, contact REM as soon as possible, so we may assist you in meeting your deadlines.
- Assign an individual, the area safety committee chair for instance, to implement the laboratory decommissioning policy.
- Unwanted materials must be submitted for pickup on a Hazardous Material Pickup Request Form.
- Submit pickup requests often.
- All materials must be properly labeled and in appropriate containers with tight fitting lids.
- Segregate unknown materials and submit them on a separate pickup request.
- Keep radioactive and biological materials separated from all other chemicals.
- Redistribute useable materials to other researchers in the department.
- Maintain current chemical inventories for each laboratory.
- Buy only what you need.
- Practice good laboratory hygiene.
- Contact REM HMM Section at (765) 494-0121 for assistance.