Alabama Power’s decision in 2008 to shut down the Powell Avenue Steam Plant in 2013 has created new challenges for UAB Facilities and Occupational Health & Safety.
UAB relies heavily on the steam from the plant to heat many campus buildings and for heating and sterilization in the hospital. UAB will replace the Powell Avenue plant with a steam plant of its own at 10th Avenue and 17th Street South. The university must apply to the Jefferson County Department of Health for a Title V air permit to build it.
|Environmental Management Director David Hagan is a former environmental scientist for the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM).
David Hagan, the director of environmental management and a former environmental scientist for the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM), is responsible for making this vision a reality. It is his responsibility to secure the environmental permits for the construction of the plant — a process that will have taken more than a year to complete when finished early in 2010.
“David has worked in a regulatory environment and worked with other companies to get them compliant with local, state and federal regulations,” says Max Richard, assistant vice president for Occupational Health & Safety. “His knowledge and ability to interpret rules and regulations will be very valuable in securing this permit and shaping our environmental management program as a whole.”
UAB must identify and disclose all emission sources to secure the permit. UAB has laboratories, incinerators and crematoriums on campus, but the bulk of emissions comes from combustion engines, boilers and generators that burn natural gas or diesel fuel.
“That’s where 90 percent of our emissions come from and the reason we need this permit,” Hagan says.
Coming back home
Hagan, a 1981 graduate of UAB, joined Occupational Health & Safety this past November. While his No. 1 project at the moment is securing the air permit, he also has his eye toward shaping UAB’s management of environmental issues and impacts.
Air, water and land are the three primary areas for environmental management.
“Those are the big categories for any organization, including UAB,” Hagan says. “We deal with other things too. The largest by volume would be medical waste. It’s not something we deal with directly anymore because it’s contracted out, but it’s still our waste and our responsibility to make sure it’s managed properly.”
Hagan has plenty of experience in developing environmental management protocols. In addition to his eight years with ADEM, Hagan developed and managed the corporate environmental health and safety audit program for Laidlaw Environmental Services/Safety Kleen Systems in Columbia, S.C., when it was the largest hazardous waste-management company in North America.
“We evaluated all of our facilities — incinerators, landfills and other treatment, storage and disposal facilities we operated — for the management of hazardous and industrial waste, and these evaluations covered compliance with all air, water and solid/hazardous waste regulations,” Hagan says.
Universities are subject to air, water and solid- and hazardous-waste laws. In the case of UAB — a large research institution with hundreds of laboratories that use hazardous chemicals and a hospital that generates hazardous and medical waste — it is imperative to manage these wastes in a responsible manner, Richard says.
“The Environmental Protection Agency now is looking more closely at colleges and universities because of the hazardous waste generated and air emissions, among others,” Richard says. “We have not had that close oversight by the EPA before. We’ve been doing the things we needed to do all along with the responsibilities spread throughout Occupational Health & Safety, but David now will organize it into a more coherent unit under environmental management. It will make it even easier for us to track compliance and make sure we are in compliance with all regulations.”