PCB Disposal

Standard Operating Procedures for the Handling of Generated Polychlorinated Biphenyls [PCBs] Wastes

Table of  Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Who to Contact
  3. Application
  4. Sources of PCB waste
  5. Analysis
  6. Emergencies
  7. Administration

1.0 Introduction

The handling of PCB-contaminated waste materials requires special consideration. Many provincial and federal environmental requirements apply. It is important for the University to recognize and identify possible sources of contaminated PCB wastes and implement appropriate handling requirements for such wastes.

These procedures outline the requirements for the management of PCB-contaminated waste materials generated in laboratories, other academic areas and facilities and services operations. The identification of possible sources of PCB-contaminated materials, analysis and administrative requirements are outlined. Decontamination procedures as they apply to emergencies are also addressed. Waste that is not immediately shipped for destruction must be stored on University property. Exportation of PCB wastes outside the country is not allowed. Disposal options for such wastes are limited and expensive.

To comply with environmental regulations, ALL PCB-contaminated materials must be disposed of through Environmental Protection Services.

Environmental Protection Services provides assistance in identifying, handling, storage and disposal options as well as all coordinating all regulatory requirements for PCB-contaminated materials.

2.0 Who to Contact

For assistance regarding PCB-contaminated materials, please contact:

Environmental Protection Services
Manager, Environmental Protection
(416) 978-7000
Fax: (416) 971-1361
email: eps.hazdisposal@utoronto.ca

3.0 Application

Definition of a PCB waste

A PCB material is legally defined as any monochlorinated or polychlorinated biphenyl or any mixture that contains one or more of them. This includes equipment, solids [including empty containers] and contaminated liquids.

Special handling and storage requirements apply to any waste material with a concentration greater than 50 ppm of polychlorinated biphenyls [PCBs]. The handling of PCB wastes is subject to Ontario Regulation 362 – PCB Waste Management under the Environmental Protection Act of Ontario [RSO 1990]. If the PCB waste cannot be decontaminated, it must be stored in a registered PCB site on the generator’s property. The required environmental precautions vary due to the type of storage and type of PCB material being stored.

4.0 Sources of PCB waste

Of the total PCBs used in the industrial/commercials sectors, Environment Canada has estimated that the educational sector accounts for 4% of the PCB inventory in all of Canada. It is important to be able to identify the potential sources of these contaminated materials that may likely be encountered at the University. Historically, the major source of PCB waste at the University has been created when PCB-contaminated equipment has been removed from service or decommissioned.

Should you suspect you have any PCB-contaminated equipment or material, please contact Environmental Protection Services. A test will be performed to indicate the presence or absence of PCBs. There is no charge to departments for this test.

4.1 Laboratory and Operational Sources

PCBs were used in a variety of applications including additives in lubricants, heat transfer dielectric fluids, adhesives etc. All these uses were banned in Canada in 1977. Hydraulic equipment, oil-filled electromagnets, circuit breakers, voltage regulators, cables and vacuum pumps may contain PCB liquid.

The age of the equipment is a good indicator of potential PCB contamination. Equipment manufactured prior to 1980, is likely to have used PCB-contaminated fluids. Special attention should be paid to diffusion pumps and vacuum pumps. In the past, the University has produced these pumps that were contaminated with PCBs.

Older equipment suspected of containing PCB materials, being removed from laboratories for scrap or decommissioning, must be carefully screened for PCBs.

PCBs were sold in North America under the trade name AROCLOR. They were defined by a 4 digit code of which the last 2 digits represent the % by weight of the chlorine content. For example, an Aroclor containing 60% PCB would be designated Arocolor 1260.

Contaminated laboratory samples may also be produced from calibration samples. If a laboratory sample is labelled as PCB, Polychlorinated biphenyls, chlorinated biphenyl, Aroclor samples, the sample should be suspect as containing PCBs.

Any empty containers suspected of previously containing PCBs should be considered as PCB-contaminated waste material.

4.2 Transformers

Since the 1930’s, a generic fluid called “askarel” containing 40-70% PCBs were used in high voltage transformers. Commercial Aroclors were blended with trichlorobenzene. Askarel is the genetic term used to identify the combination of Aroclor and trichlorobenzene. A typical Askarel transformer may contain 30-40% PCBs and as high as 65%. Contaminated mineral oil usually contains < 1% PCBs.

PCB-contaminated transformers can usually be distinguished by the nameplate on the transformer located on the outside casing. If the following brand names appears on the nameplate, the transformer contains PCBs:

Table 1: Trade names of PCB-contaminated transformers

Apirolio  [Italian] Kaneclor [Japan]
Aroclor Montar
Asbestol NoFlamol
Chorextol Phenoclor [France]
Chorinol Pydraul
Clophen  [German] Pyralene
Diaclor Pyroclor
DK (decachlorodiphenyl) [Italy] Saf-T-Kuhl
 Dykanol Santotherm FR [Japan]
Elemex Sorol
Eucarel Therminol FR
Fenclor [Italy]

The addition, the “Type Number” also indicates if the transformer contains PCBs. Any Type Number beginning with “L” indicates that the transformer is PCB-contaminated. Some Type Numbers are: LFAF, LFAN, LFWN, LNAF, LNP, LNS, LNW, and LNWN.

4.3 Capacitors

Almost every capacitor manufactured between 1930-1980 contains PCB dielectric liquids. Capacitors in electrical equipment vary in sizes from ice cubes to larger than refrigerators. Capacitors are classified as large when they contain > 0.5 kg of PCBs. Small capacitors are generally associated with electronic or lighting equipment. Fluorescent light ballasts also contain capacitors. Light ballasts are discussed below.

Capacitors may be found in a variety of locations within a building for example connected to A.C. motors > 30 hp wired to the electrical terminals. A capacitor often can be recognized by the letters KVAR stamped on its nameplate. Capacitors may vary in size from 5 KVAR to 200 KVAR range. Capacitors are hermetically sealed to reduce leakage. Unless clearly indicated on the equipment, or the date of purchase can be confirmed to be after 1980, most capacitors in use must be assumed to be contaminated with PCBs unless tests have verified their absence.

4.3.1. Ballasts

Fluorescent light fixtures may contain several ballasts. Fluorescent lighting ballasts are easily identifiable containing PCBs or non PCB. The small capacitors inside the ballasts are contaminated with high levels of PCB liquid if they were manufactured prior to 1980. At the University over the years, these ballasts have been used from a wide variety of manufacturers. Environmental Protection Services maintains a list of models from various manufacturers that are PCB-contaminated.  Also Environment Canada has a publication on Identifying Lamp Ballast containing PCBs.

5.0 Analysis

Unless suspect equipment or laboratory sample has been verified as being PCB-free through an accredited laboratory, it is advisable that a sample be sent for analysis to determine the extent of PCB contamination or to verify the absence of PCBs. Contact Environmental Protection Services to arrange for an analysis.

6.0 Emergency Response

In the event of a spill or fire involving PCBs, procedures have been developed to deal with spills and fires. These procedures should be made readily available in the area containing PCBs. Environmental Protection Services can be consulted regarding specific spill response procedures in individual areas.

7.0 Administration

7.1 Disposal

Wastes that are contaminated with PCBs greater than 50 ppm require special destruction. These materials require special handling, storage and notification to the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks prior to being removed from a generating site for disposal. Currently disposal of PCB wastes is limited in the number of facilities able to destroy these wastes. The exportation of PCB wastes outside of the country is prohibited. The destruction of high-level wastes is limited to a single facility in Canada. Low-level wastes can be treated on the generator’s site using a chemical destruction process. All disposal of PCB wastes is coordinated through the Office of Environmental Health and Safety. If any waste materials that are being disposed, the Manager, Environmental Protection should be notified. This includes all sources of wastes, from laboratories, building renovations and operations.

7.1 Transport

Transport of PCB wastes across or along public streets must have prior approval from the MOECP.

7.2 Long term [>90 days] storage

All wastes contaminated with > 50 ppm PCBs are classified as PCB waste and must be appropriately stored. The Ontario Ministry of Environment [MOECP] issues operating conditions for all PCB waste stored for more than 90 days. PCB wastes are subject to MOECP as well as Environment Canada guidelines. The University, as required by the MOECP, has decomissioned it’s registered PCB waste storage site located at the Insitute for Aerospace Studies in August of 2004 therefore NO PCB waste shall be stored longer than 90 days. Contact the Manager, Environmental Protection to arrange for disposal.