OP-EDS

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May 19, 2005

Keeping Waste Away

The U of C is home to many research facilities and laboratories, and accidents are bound to occur on campus. A problem arises, however, when the accidents are recurring and unresolved over an extended period of time.

The Maroon commends the University for its quick and thorough response to the problematic state of waste disposal, which has resulted in a drastic decline in the amount of laboratory waste found around campus. It can only be hoped that those responsible for waste disposal will remain vigilant, and probe more deeply into the nature of a problem that has occurred, on and off, for years.

Administrators, building managers, and custodians should constantly be watchful of the waste material that leaves the labs and research facilities on campus for the health and safety of members of the University community. It should not be the responsibility of passersby to bring concerns to the University, but rather that of facilities services surveillance crews. The fact that such surveillance did not catch safety violations raises important questions about its effectiveness.

Most importantly, there should never be relapses, especially after incidents have been repeatedly brought to the University's attention. While not all laboratory materials are harmful—indeed, laboratory containers are designed to prevent this before ever disposing of waste—they have no place outside proper disposal containers. The U of C is well known as a research institution, and most students will come into contact with lab materials during their time here, but the greatest care should be taken to ensure that nothing potentially harmful appears outside of the proper facilities and lab environments.