January 23, 2019

Plain exterior of new building hides super abilities

Celebrating the new building going into use this month are Rick Wilcox, director of Construction; Gandalf Sanders, hazardous materials technician; James Gray, fire marshal for city of Loma Linda; Curtis Brundage, REHS, manager of Environmental Health and Safety; Rod Neal, MBA, senior vice president for finance; and Brett McPherson, director of Environmental Health and Safety.

The newest building to open at Loma Linda University Health makes for a safer campus and community through safely storing hazardous waste materials in a self-contained system with built-in backup measures. It went into use earlier this month and is located on Parkland Street.

Should a chemical spill occur in the new structure, the building’s design will keep in any and all noxious solids, liquids or gases, preventing campus evacuation, mass exposure, or worse.

Hazardous substances generated by the organization’s various clinical labs and research laboratories are collected daily and transported to the building, where they are stored in an appropriate container as per chemical type. Every 90 days, a contracted company collects the materials for disposal. 

Though unlikely, if any materials spilled while in-house — or if an earthquake were to occur — the building is ready. Its foundation is solid enough to support thousands of pounds of hazardous substances and much more. This super solid foundation safely houses four chemically sealed containment pits to which any spillage would run through drainage grates. 

Nor can gas fumes escape the building, in which every surface — including lightbulbs and paint — is built to rebuff sparks and withstand fire. Interior ceiling sprinklers add a further layer of protection, and the walls are composed of block walls reinforced with rebar and filled with concrete.

All this is wired into the campus’ fire alarm system and monitored 24/7 by video surveillance. 

Several years in the planning, the Hazardous Material Storage Building is one of the ways Loma Linda University Health carries out its commitment to a safe environment for students, employees, patients and community members. The Office of Environmental Health & Safety is grateful for funding and support from Loma Linda University to get the project lifted, noted Brett McPherson, director.