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EHS / Research Support and Environmental Compliance / Environmental Issues

Environmental stewardship and sustainability are concepts that are growing in importance as the world experiences population growth and potential climatic shifts. Florida State University is working to ensure its position as a leader in these areas and has many programs that are in place to embrace the various concepts. The following are some of those programs and associated information and links.

Stormwater management is a crucial component for the control of runoff and pollution. FSU is located in a region that is important in many aspects of water management for this region of the state. Stormwater from our campus flows into the regional retention facilities to the south of campus and eventually joins other sources and flows into the Gulf of Mexico or helps to recharge the aquifer that is the source for much of Florida’s drinking water. Based on the size and types of facilities that are on campus, a stormwater permit is required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). In accordance with our permit, we are required to conduct campus activities in such a manner as to minimize and/or prevent stormwater contamination and polluted runoff from our facilities. There are a variety of activities that are monitored and controlled to help meet the requirements.

The following links provide an insight into this area and identify some of the requirements and activities that help to ensure our program is a success.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) have promulgated policies aimed at protecting the environment through minimization of waste materials requiring disposal. In accordance with these policies and as a large-quantity generator of hazardous wastes, The Florida State University campus in Tallahassee is required to ensure that steps are being taken to reduce or limit the amounts of all wastes generated by our facilities. EH&S is working to develop a comprehensive Waste Minimization Plan in order to ensure continued compliance and formally document the efforts that are being taken across the entire campus.

The goals of waste minimization are closely related to many other regulatory obligations and environmental best practices such as those that fall under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Pollution Prevention (P2), recycling and general sustainability efforts. All elements required by these programs are currently being addressed at our university as are most of the voluntary efforts and aspects; although additional efforts focused on assurance and potential improvement in these endeavors will always be warranted. The Waste Minimization Plan for the University should identify all of the individual program elements that are currently present amongst many different divisions and delineate strategies for efficiently maximizing and continuing these efforts. This plan will neither detract from initiatives that are currently underway nor preclude the establishment of future efforts. Members of the university community involved in these types of initiatives, that are not included under one of the groups listed at the end of this section, are encouraged to contact EH&S (644-8800) in order to ensure that they are reflected in this plan.

The main program elements addressed by waste minimization are source reduction, recycling, treatment and disposal. Source reduction is the area that has received the least formal attention and has the greatest potential for improvement. The entire community should strive to purchase only materials that will be used as intended within a reasonable amount of time. We have seen many examples of items bought in bulk or stockpiled that were never used and had to either be disposed of as hazardous waste, cleaned up to prevent environmental impacts and/or resulted in significantly greater costs than imagined by the initially apparent savings. This includes such things as laboratory chemicals, fertilizers, fuel oils and paints and could include the many common consumer items that can be seen filling residence hall dumpsters at the end of each school year.

Some excellent initiatives and resources currently operating at the University are:

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has directed all facilities with tanks containing petroleum products or animal or vegetable oils that exceed specified volumes to develop and implement an SPCC plan wherever potential spills from these tanks could threaten navigable waterways. The definition of navigable waterways is such that most every facility located in the southeastern United States is viewed as being held to this requirement. Florida State University has an SPCC plan for the main campus and facilities at or near Innovation Park, the Mission Road Greenhouse and the Marine Laboratory at Turkey Point. SPCC representatives have been appointed for all the respective Departments whose facilities are covered in this plan. Facilities, Operations & Maintenance and Environmental Health & Safety share responsibility for overall coordination of planning, mitigation and response efforts required by the SPCC Plan. In the interest of sound environmental stewardship and ease of implementation, all permanent petroleum storage tanks are included in the University SPCC response plan. Entities installing new tanks should contact Facilities, Central Utilities (644-6754) or EH&S, Chemical Safety (644-7682) in order to ensure that these tanks are properly registered and included in SPCC response plans.