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Don't haet on the EPA

#1StarksPosted 6/12/2011 6:04:52 AM
Do you like methane in your drinking water?

Is it an acceptable risk of domestic energy production?

Do you not understand that energy ventures are incorrigible unless strong regulations exist from day 1?
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#2RufusNKenRSTierPosted 6/12/2011 6:34:13 AM
The Free Market™ would fix all of those problems, and then some.

Darned Big Government, always getting in the way and needlessly saving lives.
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#3willythemailboy(Moderator)Posted 6/12/2011 6:50:15 AM
Lots of what the EPA does is perfectly legitimate. Water quality and air quality are important, and there definitely needs to be federal level standards.

There are a few things that are pretty stupid. I work around many of their hazardous waste regulations, and some are outright moronic. For example, I am legally prohibited from cleaning up a mercury spill of more than one pound. I can't even call a haz-mat crew - I am required to call in the EPA for something I could generally handle myself in 20 minutes. This isn't someone dumping a drum of toxic crap, it's someone dropping a beaker in the lab. I'm allowed to clean up *a* broken thermometer, but if someone breaks 10 at one time it's an EPA level catastrophe.

On the other side, we had an incident which ended with most of 16 liters of methylene chloride going down a floor drain. In that case, we weren't even required to tell the water district that it happened because the "actionable" size of a spill is 1000 pounds. Probably the water treatment plant can handle it, but we get complaints about the amount of acetone in the water all the time, so who knows.

Other regulations prevent on-site waste treatment. In some circumstances that serves no purpose other than to maximize the amount of waste you generate. Permanganate waste is pretty nasty, but with a simple procedure it can be neutralized into something that can be dumped down the drain safely. Silver waste can be crashed out of solution with common table salt, turning a 4 liter bottle of liquid waste into 100 grams of solid waste and 4 liters of drain-ready salt water. Chromate waste is truly nasty, and there's not real way to make it safer. We could, however, evaporate it down and reduce the volume by a factor of 50 or so. All those simple waste "treatment" procedures carry zero risks and quite a bit of benefit, and all are legally prohibited.
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#4RufusNKenRSTierPosted 6/12/2011 7:05:04 AM(edited)
Solution: Rubberize the floor so that beakers won't break when dropped.

You'd need to use soft rubber of course ;).

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On a more serious note, is there actual reasoning behind those rules or did they pretty much just assign numbers to them because they had to put down SOMETHING?
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#5willythemailboy(Moderator)Posted 6/12/2011 7:30:50 AM
RufusNKenRSTier posted...
Solution: Rubberize the floor so that beakers won't break when dropped.

You'd need to use soft rubber of course ;).


Rubberized floors aren't terribly effective at preventing glass from breaking. Also, glass breaks on counters and in sinks even more often than it drops on the floor. And rubber is a really bad choice when you are playing with nasty chemicals. I've spilled things that started eating the concrete.

On a more serious note, is there actual reasoning behind those rules or did they pretty much just assign numbers to them because they had to put down SOMETHING?

I have to assume at least some sort of reasoning, but I don't know for sure what it is. The mercury thing is just people having a phobia about mercury vapor, despite the reason we use mercury is its absurdly low vapor pressure. Methylene chloride I'm assuming they expect it to either evaporate and have atmospheric chemistry break it down or that sewer treatment plants can handle significant quantities without too much effort.
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#6RufusNKenRSTierPosted 6/12/2011 7:33:16 AM
Okay, then line everything with whatever is on the inside of the beakers, since presumably those don't get melted by the chemicals :P.
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#7willythemailboy(Moderator)Posted 6/12/2011 7:56:39 AM
That would be glass. And no, I think I'll take concrete instead of glass for the floors, and epoxy for the counters. It's not quite as resistant to chemicals, but I don't have to replace the floor every time I drop something.

The drains in the building actually do use glass pipes, though. We've only broken a couple, and for our purposes they're much better than PVC or metal. We dump high concentration acids pretty often (which would eat metal) and even a little methylene chloride would melt clean through PVC. By the time the drains leave the building the acids are diluted enough to not destroy the metal or concrete sewer pipes.
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#8RufusNKenRSTierPosted 6/12/2011 8:41:28 AM
We still use glass? We don't have some super high tech polymer by now?
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#9willythemailboy(Moderator)Posted 6/12/2011 10:14:15 AM
Except for fragility, glass is nearly ideal. And things you don't want to use glass for, standard plastics work pretty well. More importantly, we just plan on a limited lifespan. It's not like we need a $500 material that might be able to do a couple things glass can't, when a $2 glass beaker works almost as well - and if something does go wrong, you just replace the damn thing. There are a few places that teflon gets used, but that's about it.
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#10GreenTreeClubPosted 6/12/2011 2:22:54 PM
There's still fluoride in our water. And Obama's science czar John P. Holderen wrote the book "Ecoscience" which calls for adding sterilants in the water and a planetary regime which calls for world population reduction. Our environment is also being destroyed by GMO which is taking over the species of salmon for example. Where's the EPA on these important issues? All they care about is restricting the vital CO2 that we need to be able to live.