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, CA (Phone: 805/258-2662) RELEASE: 97-102
May 19, 1997
NEW NASA FACILITY TO REDUCE CHEMICAL WASTES; MAY PROVIDE BETTER STORAGE FOR HAZARDOUS MATERIALS NASA today unveiled a new facility -- using readily available off-the-shelf components -- that will help reduce chemical wastes, and the technology could be applied in constructing similar facilities throughout the country for better storage of hazardous materials. Called the Chemical Crib, NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, CA, unveiled the facility that will help reduce the center's chemical wastes by 50 percent in three years. According to Hazardous Materials Officer John L. Torres, Dryden currently spends about $90,000 per year to dispose of waste. That's down from $310,000 a few years ago. "For every dollar spent to buy chemicals, we spend three dollars to dispose of them," Torres said. "One of the biggest costs involved in waste management is not weight but volume, because waste-disposal space is so precious." Thus, reducing the volume of waste is a key component of Dryden's environmental program. The facility is a specially designed building that will serve as a central clearinghouse for all aircraft-related chemicals at Dryden, while providing a safe environment for storage and handling of potentially hazardous chemicals. The chemicals will be stored in off-the-shelf lockers that are ventilated and have their own spill-containment systems, heating and cooling regulators, and sniffers to detect spills and fires within them. Aside from the Chemical Crib itself, three other off-the-shelf devices located in the Crib promise to reduce the volume of waste chemicals Dryden creates. The first is a still that cooks down photographic waste chemicals into a one- or two-pound sludge, reducing the amount of waste by 95 percent. A second still purifies used cleaning solvents, so they can be reused. A large waste compactor, called a "Rampactor," compresses wastes, allowing more to fit into a drum. Aircraft maintenance chemicals like lubricants, solvents and cleaning agents typically are sold in bulk quantities to cut down on costs. In the past, each research aircraft crew at Dryden kept its own supply of bulk chemicals, many of which the crew used infrequently. This new facility coordinates and consolidates Dryden's chemical supply, reducing waste. The Chemical Crib will work on a library-like system -aircraft maintenance personnel will use a bar code affixed to
their badges to "check out" small quantities of chemicals they need to maintain Dryden's research aircraft and return them by the end of the day. By scanning a person's badge, personnel in the chemical crib will know where the maintenance crew member works, whether the employee is authorized to use the chemical he or she is checking out and what kind of training he or she has received in working with that chemical. Chemicals will be weighed when they are checked out and weighed when returned to determine how much has been used. This information will be transmitted electronically to the Edwards Air Force Base Environmental Office, where it will become part of Edwards' annual report to the Environmental Protection Agency. The Chemical Crib is only one of several initiatives Dryden's Safety, Health and Environmental Office is making to reduce waste at Dryden, an effort that will not only benefit the environment, but the center's budget as well. -end-