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LAB RECEIVES POLLUTION PREVENTION AWARDS
LOS ALAMOS, N.M., April 15, 2004 — Ambassador Linton Brooks, National Nuclear Security Administration administrator, presented 2004 NNSA Pollution Prevention Best-in-Class awards to two projects at Los Alamos National Laboratory on Thursday. The projects selected for recognition include revamping heavy equipment shop operations to eliminate persistent waste streams and the elimination of a hazardous chemical in the process to determine the nucleotide sequence of DNA.
The heavy equipment maintenance shop at the Laboratory has demonstrated substantial success with a variety of pollution prevention projects. One such example involves using a hot water parts washer to clean dirty metal parts instead of solvent. This change reduces hazardous waste generation, worker exposure to solvent and time spent cleaning parts. Another part of the project involved installation of stronger crimps on hydraulic fluid hoses to reduce the incidence of leaks from heavy equipment. Fewer leaks correspond to less waste and less time spent cleaning up. In a third effort, spilled oil or hydraulic fluid is now handled in special bins behind the maintenance shop where oil-digesting bacteria remove all of the oil and hydraulic fluid. The cleaned soil can be used as clean fill.
The combined innovations reduce costs by over $130,000 annually and prevent the generation of about 15 metric tons of New Mexico Special Waste and 1,300 gallons of solvent every year. All of the innovations were researched and implemented by the maintenance shop staff and are being transferred to other DOE facilities. The Laboratory's Pollution Prevention team plans to share the information with other auto shops in northern New Mexico as part of their community outreach program.
The other award winning technology includes the replacement of a hazardous chemical process with a water-based alternative. The process to determine the sequence of DNA requires multiple steps and chemicals. The chemical formamide traditionally is used to re-suspend DNA after denaturing. Fomamide fumes can be potentially hazardous. Lynne Goodwin and her team in the Laboratory's Bioscience Division searched for a non-hazardous replacement for formamide. They discovered that substituting a water-based solution gave even better sequencing results with none of the potential hazards of formamide. Formamide was the only hazardous chemical associated with genetic sequencing, so eliminating the chemical resulted in sequencing waste that is now completely non-hazardous.
This change also substantially reduced the amount of paperwork involved with operations. The total annual savings on reduced waste disposal, procurement costs, and labor are approximately $78,000.
The awards recognize employees and/or teams who have minimized or reduced the Laboratory's waste stream through practices they've adopted. Winning personnel receive a plaque and a medallion.
The Pollution Prevention Office in the Risk Reduction and Environmental Stewardship Division is responsible for implementing waste minimization projects, distributing pollution prevention information and educating Laboratory employees on energy efficient, cost-effective environmental practices. Funding for the Pollution Prevention awards is provided by the Department of Energy as an incentive to improve operational efficiency and increase pollution prevention at the Laboratory
Los Alamos National Laboratory is operated by the University of California for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) of the U.S. Department of Energy and works in partnership with NNSA's Sandia and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories to support NNSA in its mission. Los Alamos enhances global security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear deterrent, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to defense, energy, environment, infrastructure, health and national security concerns.
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