UNH Background
Public Safety Management Project

Contact: Lori Wright
UNH Media Relations

Oct. 6, 2004

The proposed national public safety management system will be based on the UNH Chemical Environmental Management System (UNHCEMS), a comprehensive online system that tracks hazardous materials that was developed by the UNH Research Computing Center (RCC).
UNHCEMS is a Web-based system allows public and private research institutions to manage hazardous chemicals and radioactive materials stored at multiple locations on their campuses. UNHCEMS tracks thousands of hazardous materials.

UNHCEMS holds great promise to improve tracking, information exchange and emergency response activities. This project will expand the capacity of UNHCEMS and will develop site-specific educational curricula for law enforcement personnel using the integrated software application.

UNHCEMS features online modules for: chemical inventory management, hazardous waste management, materials safety data sheet (MSDS) tracking, particularly hazardous substances tracking, informational and emergency signage, emergency response information, and reporting and administrative features. The emergency response information module allows emergency personnel to quickly view chemical hazards and signage by location, to review MSDS and fact sheets for chemicals by location, and to access this data optionally on CD-ROM.

A case study of UNHCEMS published by the Environmental Protection Agency was included in the EPA’s best management practices catalog for colleges and universities regarding homeland security. UNHCEMS was developed as part of a settlement agreement with the agency following an EPA inspection at UNH five years ago. At the time, UNH was found to have violated the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act regarding waste disposal in laboratories.

“This online chemical management system holds great potential to help universities and colleges improve tracking and management of chemicals and wastes,” says Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office. “We've found in our inspections that many colleges are wasting significant amounts of chemicals because they do not have systems in place for accurately recording the identity, quantity and location of materials. This system holds great promise to reverse this problem, resulting in campuses that are safer and better for the environment.”

Brown University and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst are using UNHCEMS, and numerous universities and hospitals have expressed interest in the system. In addition, as part of the USA Group International Partners for Peace program, a government delegation from Macedonia was presented the system as an option for part of its national emergency response system.