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EPA SETTLES WITH MEMPHIS LIGHT, GAS and WATER DIVISION FOR ALLEGED PCB VIOLATIONS

Release Date: 11/07/2008
Contact Information: Dawn Harris-Young, (404) 562-8421, harris-young.dawn@epa.gov

(Atlanta, Ga. – Nov. 7, 2008) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has entered into a settlement with Memphis Light, Gas & Water Division (MLGW) in Memphis, TN that resolves alleged violations of the Toxic Substances Control Act for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The alleged violations included improper PCB disposal, storage, marking, recordkeeping and marketing at several of MLGW’s facilities. In a consent agreement with EPA, MLGW will pay a $1,220,576 civil penalty to resolve the alleged TSCA violations and conduct a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP). The penalty is the highest in an EPA TSCA PCB enforcement action that includes a SEP.

Under the SEP, MLGW will conduct a Voluntary Accelerated PCB Removal Program that within three years will significantly reduce the number of transformers, capacitors, and oils that contain regulated quantities of PCBs. The SEP is part of MLGW’s long-term 10-year effort to remove from service all PCB equipment that contains regulated amounts of PCBs. Both the short-term and long-term efforts will result in an overall reduction of PCBs in use and decrease the risk for potential adverse environmental and health impacts associated with PCB exposure. Upon completion of the SEP, it is estimated that approximately 1,216,000 pounds of PCBs will be removed from the environment. A SEP is an environmentally beneficial project that a violator voluntarily agrees to undertake in settlement; it must be a project that a violator will not otherwise be required to perform.

“It is important that companies and communities comply with regulations to protect human health and the environment from unreasonable risks posed by certain toxic substances,” said Jimmy Palmer, EPA Regional Administrator in Atlanta. “MLGW has stepped up to the plate by correcting its past actions and establishing a plan to remove PCBs from its facilities -- a good result for the environment.”

The alleged violations were discovered during inspections conducted by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), EPA’s authorized representative, at MLGW’s Central Shops and Substations 1, 3 and 4 to determine compliance with the TSCA PCB regulations. Based on the findings of TDEC’s inspections, EPA determined that violations of TSCA PCB regulations had occurred.

PCBs were once widely used as a nonflammable coolant for transformers and other electrical equipment. More than 1.5 billion pounds were manufactured in the United States before EPA banned the production of this chemical class in 1978. Concerns about human health and the extensive presence and lengthy persistence of PCBs in the environment led Congress to enact the Toxic Substances Control Act in 1976.

For more information on PCB regulations and enforcement, as well as the Toxic Substances Control Act enforcement in general, please visit the EPA’s website at: www.epa.gov/compliance/civil/tsca/index.html.