May 21, 2004  




Keeping SLAC on Track, One Chemical at a Time

By Mason Inman

SLAC will soon implement a whole new system for ordering and tracking chemicals throughout the site. The system is designed to make ordering easy, keep track of chemicals throughout their lifecycle, and increase efficiency.

The system has side benefits of helping the environment while saving time and money. The main motivation behind it, however, is to keep better records on chemicals.

“In the early 2000s, requirements became more restrictive for facilities of SLAC’s size,” said Lawrence Byers (ES&H). More chemicals have to be reported on now, he said, and those chemicals each require more reports. “The primary driver for this move to a new system was that SLAC needed a better way to manage the information about our chemicals.”

In SLAC’s new system, all chemical ordering, delivery, tracking, reporting, and disposal information will flow through one central information system. This system ties together the costs of purchasing and disposing of chemicals, encouraging efficiency in the use of chemicals and of less toxic alternatives.

Using less toxic alternatives cuts the amount of tracking and reporting necessary to government agencies, saving time and money. Using less chemicals overall cuts the amount of tracking as well, but also saves money on the materials and on shipping. The result is that rather than chemical vendors benefiting from customers using more chemicals, they benefit from customers being more efficient.

SLAC was introduced to the new system by the non-profit organization, Chemical Strategies Partnership (CSP) of San Francisco, which was founded in the late 1990s by the Pew Charitable Trusts. These types of systems originated about 10 years ago with General Motors Corp., who found that tracking their chemicals more closely throughout their whole lifecycle allowed them to become more efficient. The system was then picked up by much of the auto industry, and later the electronics industry and many other large corporations.

Over the last three years, Byers has worked with CSP on assessing SLAC and adapting the system to the site. In recognition of his efforts, DOE gave Byers one of its first annual Pollution Prevention and Environmental Stewardship awards on Earth Day, April 22.

CSP did a free assessment of SLAC’s chemical use, tracking and disposal in summer 2001. “SLAC was attractive to them to study because we’d be the first DOE institution and the first academic institution to put this in place,” Byers said.

Several Chemical Management Services (CMS) vendors already had such chemical tracking backbones in place. Implementing a commercially available system was judged to be much cheaper than creating a home-grown one, at an estimated price of more than $1 million according to Byers. “That’s why we turned to this system. It was felt we could satisfy our new regulatory reporting obligations at a lower cost.”

For several weeks starting July 1, SLAC’s new CMS vendor, Haas TCM, will be conducting a baseline chemical inventory to prepare for this fall’s planned switch over to the new tracking system with the support of lab owners, work area representatives and ES&H. For orders, each group will get a personalized Web store along the lines of, making future ordering as easy as ‘one-click’ shopping. The Web store will also store order histories, which can be sorted by work area or time period, and will track all orders from the warehouse to the work area.

For more information on the upcoming changes, see the ES&H Web site:


The Stanford Linear Accelerator Center is managed by Stanford University for the US Department of Energy

Last update Tuesday May 18, 2004 by Emily Ball