the cheap way to get rid of chemicals

September 13, 2007 at 8:22 am | | lab safety, news

From the Seattle Post Intelligencer:

SEATTLE — A University of Washington professor who dumped an extremely flammable solvent down a laboratory sink to avoid the $15,000 disposal cost needn’t go to jail but must pay a $5,000 fine, a federal judge has decided.

Admitting what he called “a stupid mistake,” Daniel Storm, 62, pleaded guilty in March to violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act by dumping roughly a gallon of ethyl ether. He was sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court to three years of probation and 80 hours of community service.

“I will never ever do anything like this again,” he told Judge James L. Robart, who rejected a recommendation by government lawyers for a $20,000 fine.

To avoid the cost to his lab operating fund, Storm, a pharmacology professor who has been with the university nearly 30 years, used an ax to break open metal containers and poured the solvent down a sink on June 25, 2006, according to his plea agreement.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends that anyone cleaning up a spill of ethyl ether wear protective gear.

A university disciplinary review is continuing.

So he found the cheaper way to dispose of ethyl ether. In case the judge didn’t notice, 5000<15000.


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  1. Sort of…but the lab would have paid $15,000. Instead, he’s paying $5,000 out of pocket – and I’m guessing he won’t be reimbursed for that out the lab fund.

    Comment by charles — September 13, 2007 #

  2. his grants probably pay part of his salary. it all comes from the same place. but you’re obviously right, he won’t be reimbursed.

    Comment by sam — September 13, 2007 #

  3. Why did he need to get rid of a gallon of ethyl ether? In my experience, lab chemicals that aren’t needed just moulder in the corner, or at the back of that shelf under the fumehood, until several decades after the purchaser retires.

    Comment by TheBrummell — September 17, 2007 #

  4. Or why didn’t he sell/give them to another lab. Or why would he use an axe to open the drums?!?!

    Comment by sam — September 17, 2007 #

  5. Or just leave it under the hood over the weekend and then dispose of the empty container on monday morning?

    Comment by kayesdee — October 3, 2007 #

  6. Should have gone to jail. This guy was a jerk and tried to ruin people’s careers. Ask anyone in the pharmacology department.

    Comment by Chief — October 4, 2007 #

  7. that man was so stpid he needed to go to jail

    Comment by cece — October 10, 2012 #

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