A Phoenix lamp recycler is paying a $71,500 fine after it settled with the EPA over the company's handling of PCBs at its recycling facility.
PCBs are man-made organic chemicals used in paints, industrial equipment, plastics, and cooling oil for electrical transformers.
Tests have shown that PCBs cause cancer in animals and are suspected carcinogens in humans. Acute PCB exposure can also adversely affect the nervous, immune, and endocrine systems as well as liver function.
EPA inspections in 2008 and 2012 found that Lighting Resources, LLC had not effectively decontaminated its PCB handling area, documented the transport and disposal of PCB-contaminated materials, or properly labeled PCB and hazardous waste containers.
"Exposure to PCBs is a concern whenever facilities are handling materials containing these toxic chemicals," said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA's regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest.
The facility is permitted under the Toxic Substances Control Act to manage and store PCB wastes. Separate permits allow the facility to recycle fluorescent lamps and ballasts, batteries, electronic wastes, and mercury devices.
Lighting Resources also manages non-PCB ballasts, phosphorous powders, aerosol cans, and mercury containing wastes. The company operates facilities in five states and is one of the nation's largest ballast processors.
More than 1.5 billion pounds of PCBs were manufactured in the United States before the EPA banned the production of this chemical class in 1978, and many PCB-containing materials are still in use today.
When released into the environment, PCBs remain for decades. Concerns about human health and the extensive presence and lengthy persistence of PCBs in the environment led Congress to enact TSCA in 1976.
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