The Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) governs the following aspects of materials that contain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs):
- Equipment use and servicing
- Reporting of spill- and fire-related incidents
- Cleanup requirements
- Proper disposal
- Recordkeeping and reporting
PCBs can be present in transformers; capacitors; heat transfer systems; hydraulic systems; electromagnets, switches and voltage regulators; and circuit breakers, reclosers and cables. Federal TSCA requirements categorize the management and disposal of PCB-containing fluids into three groups:
- Greater than 500 parts per million (ppm) PCBs (PCB-containing)
- Between 50 and 500 ppm (PCB-contaminated)
- Less than 50 ppm (not generally TSCA regulated, although some requirements apply)
State regulations for PCBs may differ from the TSCA requirements outlined here. You should check with local and/or state regulatory authorities to determine regulatory requirements pertaining to PCBs.
The EPA defines PCB Transformers as "any transformer containing greater than 500 ppm PCBs." This section of the tour focuses on TSCA regulations as they pertain to PCB Transformers in the following categories:
- Use Conditions
- Servicing Conditions
- Spill-Reporting Requirements
- Use and storage of PCB Transformers that pose an exposure risk to food or feed is prohibited.
- Use of network PCB Transformers with higher secondary voltages in or near commercial buildings is prohibited.
- If PCB Transformers have been either placed into storage for reuse or removed from another location, then installation in or near commercial buildings is prohibited.
- If still in service, the following PCB Transformers must be equipped with electrical protection to avoid transformer ruptures caused by high-current faults: all higher secondary voltage radial PCB Transformers in use in or near commercial buildings • lower secondary voltage network PCB Transformers not located in sidewalk vaults in or near commercial buildings. All lower secondary voltage radial PCB Transformers in use in or near commercial buildings must be equipped with electrical protection as well.
- All radial PCB Transformers with higher secondary voltages in use in or near commercial buildings must be equipped with protection to avoid transformer ruptures caused by sustained low-current faults.
- All owners of PCB Transformers, including those in storage for reuse, must register their transformers with the EPA no later than 30 days after they are identified as such.
- Transformers in use in or near commercial buildings must be registered with the building owners. For PCB Transformers located inside these buildings, the owners must register them with the building owner of record. For PCB Transformers located near these buildings, the owners must register them with the building owner of record for each building located within 30 meters of the Transformer(s).
- Combustible materials must not be stored within a PCB Transformer enclosure, within five meters of a transformer enclosure or, if unenclosed, within five meters of a PCB Transformer.
- A visual inspection of each PCB Transformer in use or in storage for reuse must be done at least quarterly, providing that there is a minimum of 30 days between inspections. (It is possible to reduce the frequency of inspections when specific risk-reduction measures are in place.) The visual inspection must include investigation for leak of dielectric fluid on or around the transformer.
- If a PCB Transformer is found to have a leak, then the transformer must be repaired or replaced to eliminate the source of the leak. Cleanup must be initiated as soon as possible, and no later than 48 hours after discovery. (Any leaking material must be properly cleaned up and disposed of according to the requirements of 40 CFR 761 Subpart D.)
- If a PCB Transformer is involved in a fire-related incident, the owner of the transformer must report the incident to the National Response Center immediately (1-800-424-8802). The EPA defines a fire-related incident as any incident involving a PCB Transformer that generates sufficient heat and/or pressure (by any source) to result in the violent or non-violent rupture of the transformer and the release of PCBs. The facility must provide information regarding the type of PCB Transformer involved in the fire-related incident.
- Records of inspection and maintenance history must be maintained for at least three years after disposing of each PCB Transformer.
- Mineral-oil transformers tested and found to be contaminated with PCBs at 500 ppm or greater are subject to the requirements mentioned above (although certain conditions apply).
- Transformers classified as PCB-contaminated (between 50 and 500 ppm) may be serviced only with dielectric fluid containing less than 500 ppm PCB. PCB Transformers may be serviced with dielectric fluid at any concentration.
- Servicing of PCB Transformers that requires the removal of the coil from the transformer casing is prohibited.
- PCBs removed during any servicing activity must be captured and either reused as dielectric fluid or disposed of properly.
- If dielectric fluids containing less than 500 ppm PCB are mixed with fluids containing 500 ppm or greater PCB, they must not be used as dielectric fluid in any electrical equipment.
- The reclassification rule, effective May 2, 2001, identifies what is required to retrofit/reclassify a transformer's PCB status; however, not all transformers are required to be reclassified. Refer to 40 CFR 761.30(a)(v) for specific requirements related to reclassifying a transformer's PCB status.
- Dielectric fluid containing 50 ppm or greater PCBs and used for servicing transformers must be stored in accordance with the storage-for-disposal requirements in 40 CFR 761.65.
- Only persons granted an exemption under TSCA can engage in commercial processing and distribution of PCBs for the purpose of servicing transformers.
Labels are required not only on in-use or stored PCB-containing equipment (except for small capacitors), but also at the storage areas used for PCB wastes and in access areas to any PCB transformers. Any large low-voltage capacitor, small capacitor used in alternating-current circuits, or fluorescent light fixture ballast manufactured between July 1, 1978, and July 1, 1998, that does not contain PCBs must be marked by the manufacturer with the words, "No PCBs," in accordance with 40 CFR Part 761.40(g). Other than on transformers, manufacturers' markings should enable the consumer to differentiate between items that contain PCBs and those that do not.
The regulations stipulate that the storage area for PCB items must meet specific design criteria and that these items must be removed from storage for disposal within nine months and must be destroyed within one year. An area used to store items containing PCBs of 50 ppm or greater prior to disposal must meet the criteria specified in 40 CFR Part 761.65(b). This regulation addresses the requirements for adequate roofing and walls, impervious floors with curbing, restrictions on openings, adequate containment and a location above the 100-year flood plain. However, certain PCB items may be stored temporarily in areas meeting the requirements under 40 CFR 761.65(c).
TSCA recordkeeping provisions require that owners maintain information about the weight of the PCBs; the identification of PCB-containing items; the dates of storage, transfer and disposal; and the names of shippers and receivers. The generator (owner) is responsible for manifesting all PCB containers shipped off-site for disposal, for verifying that PCB containers have been disposed of properly and for maintaining a signed copy of the manifest. Certificates of disposal alone are not sufficient. If the generator stores at least 45 kgs of PCBs in a PCB container or, one or more PCB transformers, or 50 or more large high or low voltage PCB capacitors, then an annual document log of required records (e.g., manifests, certificates of disposal, inspection and cleanup records) must be maintained (40 CFR Part 761.180).
Spill cleanup and reporting requirements
The TSCA PCB cleanup and spill reporting requirements are complicated and difficult to summarize because they may vary according to the source, volume and location of a spill. It is recommended that facilities refer to the TSCA PCB regulations before taking any spill cleanup and reporting actions.
According to TSCA's reporting requirements for PCB spills at concentrations of 50 ppm or greater, cleanup must be documented with sampling records and certification, and the documentation must be maintained for five years (40 CFR Part 761.125). Depending on the location and/or volume of spilled material, certain spills must have cleanup initiated and be reported to EPA as soon as possible and within either 24 or 48 hours. For example, for PCB Transformer leaks, cleanup must be initiated as soon as possible and within 48 hours of discovery. Any TSCA PCB reporting requirements are in addition to reports required under other applicable environmental laws, such as the Clean Water Act and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act.
For the complete text of the regulations (40 CFR 761), click here:
40 CFR 761