Hazardous Duty: CELS Students Carry Out Hazardous Waste Drill

The final exam for the College of the Environment and Life Sciences Spring 2013 course, “GEO 590 – Special Problems: Environmental Hazards and Response” required hands-on demonstration of the material learned in this 13-week course taught by Corey Briggs ’80, senior manager for ENVIRON International Corporation. The course trained students to safely anticipate, recognize, evaluate, and control various hazards and risks that may be encountered at hazardous waste sites and during hazardous substance emergency responses such as chemical spills.

Their exam consisted of a “site investigation,” a mock drill designed to require the students to use their acquired knowledge and training to investigate unknown spills of various types—including radioactive ones. The 24 students used radio communication and were linked to one another and to a command center staffed by other students inside the Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences. They took soil and water samples and filled out reports. And when they were all done, they had to properly dispose of their protective suits and other gear. The entire exercise lasted over three hours.

The students included graduate and undergraduate students, and URI staff. All who completed the course earned formal OSHA HAZWOPER certification and three FEMA training certifications.

This was the first time URI offered GEO – 590. Briggs hopes to conduct the course again in the Spring 2014 semester.

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