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New England Universities Laboratories

EPA to sponsor, selection letter

July 15, l998

Michael P. Last, Managing Director
Thomas P. Balf,
Environmental Communications ML Strategies, Inc.

One Financial Center
Boston, MA 02111

Re: EPA Recommendation Regarding Laboratory Consortium for Environmental Excellence XL Proposal

Dear Michael and Tom:

Congratulations and thank you for developing an insightful Project XL proposal to design, implement and evaluate an alternative regulatory model for managing hazardous wastes in laboratories. The purpose of this letter is to formally accept the Consortium's proposal as a potential Project XL pilot and to invite you to submit a draft Final Project Agreement for EPA's review. While EPA has not formally approved of the Consortium's project at this stage, agency staff both at headquarters and here in the region believe the proposal has significant merit and deserves to be further developed in the form of a Final Project Agreement (FPA).

Among the many potential benefits of your project are its ability to:

(1) Explore how the RCRA regulatory scheme can be designed to better conform to the university lab setting.

(2) Reduce the current costs imposed on laboratories by RCRA regulations while maintaining a higher degree of environmental protection and systemic compliance.

(3) Encourage waste reduction and risk minimization through enhanced management and reuse of hazardous laboratory chemicals.

(4) Develop a transferable model of enhanced environmental management for university laboratories across the country.

In order to obtain the regulatory flexibility necessary to achieve the enhanced environmental results contemplated above, the Consortium is asked to address in more detail the following key elements of the Project XL program in the development of a draft FPA.

1. Identification of Baseline Data: In order to document currently how wastes are managed absent an Environmental Management Plan , and to effectively measure the Superior Environmental Performance achieved by this project, the project sponsor must provide a baseline estimate based on representative laboratory information, including information on types of wastes used/generated in labs, quantities of hazardous wastes used/generated in labs per month or year, types of accidents, numbers of accidents, number of students/lab workers, costs for manifests/processing, costs for treatment, and costs for disposal.

2. Regulatory Flexibility: The draft FPA should more specifically identify the nature of the regulatory flexibility sought (in particular, specific changes in regulatory requirements), as well as any areas where the Consortium seeks only clarification of existing regulations.

3. Stakeholder Involvement: The draft FPA should highlight and explain the Consortium's commitment and specific plan with regard to stakeholder involvement at both the local and national levels. Stakeholder involvement during the FPA development phase should clearly show coordination efforts with the local community surrounding the universities; coordination within the university community including all students, lab workers, custodians, administrative support, pollution control and/or grounds-keeping crew, president of the university, appropriate Dean (for example, Dean of Arts and Sciences), Board of Trustees; national, state, and local environmental interest groups; as well as peer academic labs.

4. Monitoring, Reporting and Evaluation: Each institution has committed to the collection of data throughout the term of the project. Note that to ensure the transparency and independent verifiability of the project's results, the quantity and quality of data reported must be sufficient to assure the public and the government that the universities are complying with the project's requirements and are meeting the project's goals.

5. Enforceability of Environmental Management Standard: Each member of the Consortium should understand that all XL Projects must include enforceable mechanisms in order to ensure proper accountability. In this project, the "minimum performance criteria" specified in the Environmental Management Standard must become part of a site-specific federal rule (or other legal mechanism, such as a permit) which EPA, the states, and citizens will have the ability to enforce. Each university participant should understand that a clear pattern of non-conformance on the part of a university with either the minimum performance criteria or the institution-specific Environmental Management Plan may result in elimination from the Project XL program and the re-institution of the RCRA regulations from which flexibility has been granted.

Again, I thank for you your participation in EPA's Project XL program and I look forward to receiving your draft Final Project Agreement and working together with the Consortium in developing the FPA. I know from speaking with my staff on our regional team, (Gina Snyder, Anne Leiby and Anne Kelly) that the Consortium is made up of individuals who are highly committed to the type of bold and responsible experimentation that will make our environmental protection system better for all. Please send my personal regards to each of them.

Upon signing of the FPA, the Laboratory Consortium's XL project will become an official XL Pilot. To that end, if I can be of any assistance in expediting the development and review of your Final Project Agreement, please do not hesitate to call.


John P. DeVillars Regional Administrator

cc. Mindy Lubber, J. Charles Fox, Lisa Lund, Chris Knopes, Sherri Walker, Gina Snyder, Anne Kelly

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