February 27, 2008

Heroes 2008

Brian Spangler, Business and Community Assistance Program Manager for the Air, Energy and Pollution Prevention Bureau at the Montana Department of Environmental Quality

Bonnie Rouse, Environmental Specialist, Business, Community Assistance, Montana Department of Environmental Quality

The 2008 Healthy Schools Heroes Award goes to a TEAM of five people who demonstrate how state and federal agencies can take leadership for school safety. Nomination by Randy Brown, of the US EPA, Region 8 (8P-TA), Tribal Assistance Program, Denver, CO

Randy Brown writes:

Brian Spangler and Bonnie Rouse have worked tirelessly and dedicated many hours to school chemical cleanout activities in Montana Indian Country and rural areas over the last few years.

They conducted a survey of 408 Montana middle and high schools statewide to collect information on the types of chemicals present in school science laboratories. Over 38 percent of the schools responded, reporting a total of 570 different chemicals. A total of ten schools and approximately 4,000 pounds of hazardous chemicals have been removed and responsibly disposed.

Cleanouts are planned for an additional four schools, including three in Indian Country. MDEQ also organized a series of one-day training courses on school lab chemical safety and management during the last two weeks of September 2005.

The workshops, which were conducted by Safety and Science Education Consultants, Inc., were held in nine communities. One hundred and fourteen teachers, administrators, and school custodians completed the workshops, representing schools from 43 communities.

The Business and Community Assistance Program of MDEQ has received grant funding that will be used to assist schools in the proper removal and disposal of unwanted chemicals. MDEQ has also received funding from EPA to expand the Laboratory Cleanout Program and the funds are to be dedicated to removing chemicals from more schools in Montana.

The MDEQ has a comprehensive Web site that provides chemical management resources on lab safety, conducting a chemical inventory, chemical purchasing, and other topics: http://www.mdeqschoollabs.com/index.asp

SCHOOL CHEMICAL CLEANOUT: HARDIN PUBLIC SCHOOLS, CROW INDIAN RESERVATION: The Montana Department of Environmental Quality, cleaned out numerous hazardous chemicals from the Middle and High Schools in Hardin, Montana during the Fall of 2007. The cleanout was done in collaboration with Rocky Mountain College - American Indian Affairs and EPA and addressed potentially severe risks, i.e., storage of 19.2 pounds of mercury in a Gatorade bottle and cyanide salts stored next to acids. A total of 556 pounds of chemicals were manifested and shipped for disposal.

SCHOOL CHEMICAL CLEANOUT - POLSON HIGH SCHOOL, FLATHEAD RESERVATION: Region 8, through a grant to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, cleaned out hazardous chemicals from the High School in Polson, Montana during the winter of 2007. Chemicals including aniline, potassium cyanide, antimony trichloride, lead carbonate, hydrofluoric acid, mercury, mercuric chloride, phthalic anhydride, toluene, xylene, ethanol, formaldehyde, and carbon disulfide were collected. A total of 219 pounds of chemicals were manifested/shipped for disposal by a hazardous waste broker.