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Release Date: 01/06/1998
Contact Information: Alice Kaufman, EPA Press Office, (617) 918-1064

Boston - Laidlaw Environmental Services (North East) in North Andover, MA, faces a fine of $8,800 for improper handling of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), the New England office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today. Laidlaw's Sutton Street facility disposes of hazardous chemical wastes.

"Companies in the business of handling and transporting toxic wastes should know the laws and abide by them," said John P. DeVillars. "Chemicals like PCBs take many years to break down, and compound the concern for how they are disposed of in the environment."

According to EPA, Laidlaw shipped a container of PCB-contaminated waste oil to a facility that was not licensed to handle the toxic waste. The shipping documents prepared by Laidlaw did not identify the oil as containing any PCBs, resulting in the improper disposal of two drums of waste. The company had not completed the required testing for PCBs before filling out shipping forms which led to an improper distribution in commerce, a violation of federal PCB handling rules.

PCBs are no longer manufactured but remain in use as non-conductive, fire-resistant additives to coolant liquids in heavy electrical equipment. They are extremely stable chemical compounds in the environment, and are suspected carcinogens. Exposure to PCBs can cause liver problems and chloracne, a persistent skin rash. This action was taken under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).