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TO:                      Superintendents of Schools


FROM:               Dawn R. Gallagher, Commissioner, Department of Environmental Protection

                            Susan A. Gendron, Commissioner, Department of Education


DATE:                May 27, 2003


SUBJECT:         Department of Environmental Protection Chemical Clean-out Program



We are pleased to announce that the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), in cooperation with the Department of Education, is once again offering a mercury and chemical clean-out program for schools. 


Last year’s clean-out was a huge success. The DEP removed 297 pounds of mercury from 24 Maine schools, for an average of 12 pounds per school.  Several of these schools did not realize they had mercury or mercury-containing items until they started the project’s inventory process.  In addition, the 24 participating schools took the opportunity to remove additional old, unwanted hazardous chemicals from their science labs, averaging 67 pounds of hazardous waste per school.  In one instance, a school discovered they had a shock sensitive chemical that, under the right conditions, could have led to a disastrous situation.  We know that there are more schools that still have unacceptable high risk materials in their science rooms and elsewhere. We hope that all schools will take advantage of this opportunity to identify and remove hazardous materials from their schools.


This year the DEP has expanded the program to include universal wastes (UW).  The Maine Hazardous Waste Rules require schools to recycle their universal wastes (computers, lamps and lamp ballasts) on an annual basis and the new clean-out project is designed to collect these wastes as well.  A complete description of this year’s program and the Participation Form can be accessed through the following web sites. mercury flyer 3-03.pdf


We encourage you to participate in this year’s DEP clean-out project. As part of the project the DEP, the Department of Education, and the Department of Labor are also offering free training workshops and materials to help schools meet the chemical management requirements in Chapter 161 of the DOE’s rules.  All schools, regardless of participation in the clean-out program, are invited to participate in these training opportunities. For assistance in conducting a mercury audit, guidance on your recycling and disposal options, or to participate in the workshop, please contact Ann Pistell of the Department of Environmental Protection at 287-7703 (email ).


Thank you for your help in addressing this problem.  We applaud your efforts to educate our youth about the dangers of mercury, to reduce their risk of exposure to mercury in the classroom, and to ensure that schools are not a source of mercury or hazardous chemical emissions to our environment.