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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. For information on PNNL's sustainable operation, please visit Sustainable PNNL.

Chemical Use and Storage: As a research laboratory, PNNL has many buildings where chemicals are used and/or stored for research operations and maintenance activities. Controls used to avoid potential hazards include training, inventory control procedures, approvals prior to chemical requisitioning, and work procedures for chemicals use, including adequate 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 research projects at PNNL involve the use of radioactive materials. All radioactive materials are labeled and controlled. Controls include restricted access to radiation areas and special training requirements for staff requiring access.

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: PNNL Seeks to minimize all discharges to the environment. Discharges of water from laboratories to sewer systems and to dry wells for stormwater in parking lots are regulated by state and local permits and/or regulations. Discharges are regularly evaluated to ensure they conform to all applicable regulations and permits.

Physical Interaction with Environment: Some PNNL projects, including facility maintenance and modification, environmental studies, and environmental monitoring, may be conducted outdoors. Any work proposed to be conducted outdoors is reviewed to assure protection of the environment and minimize any potential impacts.

Biological Material Use and Storage: As a research laboratory, PNNL has many buildings where biological materials are used and/or stored for research activities. Controls used to avoid potential hazards include training and work procedures for biological material use, including adequate safety requirements.

Energy Use: Using energy judiciously is a prime objective of PNNL. Energy reduction goals are applied and maintained and activities to reduce energy consumption are implemented.

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. Reduction or eliminating environmental hazards, conservation of environmental resources, and maximizing operational sustainability is achieved through the incorporation of electronic stewardship practices, reusing materials and by operating recycling programs. PNNL also seeks opportunities to further reduce degradation and depletion of environmental resources by purchasing environmentally friendly items (e.g., that contain recycled content or is bio-based).

Water Use: PNNL recognizes the value of water in the Eastern Washington environment. PNNL maintains water use reduction goals and implements actions to reduce water consumption across the laboratory.

Fuel Usage: PNNL seeks to minimize the use of petroleum-based fuels by purchasing vehicles that use alternative fuels such as Ethanol-85 and through the acquisition of high-fuel-efficiency vehicles, including hybrids and all-electric vehicles. PNNL has recently acquired electric vehicles for on-campus transportation and has installed solar-powered electric vehicle charging stations across the main Richland campus. In addition, PNNL was instrumental in obtaining the first bio-fuel service station in Richland, Washington, and when appropriate, uses bio-diesel to fuel generators.

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