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PCB Violations Result in Major Penalty at Wheeling W. Va. Facility
Release Date: 03/16/2006
Contact Information: Mike Frankel, 215-814-2665
PHILADELPHIA - An administrative law judge has assessed a $151,800 penalty against Environmental Protection Services, Inc. (EPS) for improper storage and disposal of equipment containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) at the company’s scrap metal recovery facility in Wheeling, W.Va., the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today.
In a March 7, 2006 decision, Administrative Law Judge Carl C. Charneski ruled that EPS was liable for violating federal regulations designed to protect public health and the environment from PCBs, a toxic substance and probable human carcinogen.
PCBs were once widely used as a nonflammable coolant for transformers and other electrical equipment. In 1976, Congress enacted the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which strictly regulated the manufacture, use and disposal of PCBs. The 2001 complaint against EPS was EPA’s first case enforcing TSCA regulations for the burning of PCB-contaminated materials in scrap metal ovens.
EPS operates a commercial PCB storage and disposal facility in Wheeling. After inspecting the facility, EPA cited the company for violating storage limits for transformers and capacitors containing PCBs. EPA inspections also discovered violations of time and temperature requirements for the burning of PCB-contaminated materials in scrap metal recovery ovens.
Judge Charneski’s decision upholding EPA’s complaint and proposed penalty followed 15 days of hearings conducted in Wheeling, W.Va. and Philadelphia, Pa., in 2003 and 2004. After rejecting the company’s defenses, the judge found that “EPS was highly negligent” in exceeding storage limits for PCB capacitors and transformers. The judge also found a “high degree of negligence” resulting from the company’s violation of PCB regulations for incineration in scrap metal ovens. The judge noted violations relating to insufficient time and temperature being applied to the PCB-contaminated materials during 15 burn cycles on 11 randomly selected dates in 1999.
“EPS has offered no adequate explanation to answer how bar-coded, PCB-contaminated transformers could be improperly disposed of in its scrap metal recovery oven with such regularity,” Judge Cherneski stated.
The company has a 30-day period to appeal this decision to EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board. For more information on the health effects, regulations, and cleanup of PCBs,
go to: https://www.epa.gov/opptintr/pcb/.
To view Judge Charneski’s decision go to https://www.epa.gov/oalj/orders/eps-id-030706.pdf.