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Fitchburg Gas and Electric Agrees to $6,765 Fine for PCB Violations

Release Date: 11/20/2002
Contact Information: Andrew Spejewski, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1014

BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that Fitchburg Gas and Electric (FG&E), a subsidiary of the Unitil Service Corporation of Hampton, N.H, has agreed to pay a $6,765 fine to settle allegations that it failed to properly mark and store PCB-contaminated transformers and dispose of them in a timely manner.

"Because of the potential for long-term environmental damage, it's very important that companies properly deal with the many pieces of old electrical equipment that contain PCBs," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA's New England Office. "To their credit, FG&E responded quickly once they discovered the problem and voluntarily notified EPA of the situation."

FG&E formerly operated an electrical substation in a building on the Sawyer Passway Extension in Fitchburg and left behind two transformers that were contaminated with PCBs when they ceased operations there. EPA alleged that the company failed to comply with PCB regulations which required that: 1) the two out-of-service PCB-contaminated transformers be properly dated; 2) the two regulated transformers be stored on site for no more than 30 days without notifying EPA and registering the facility; 3) the storage area be properly marked; and 4) the stored PCB-contaminated transformers be disposed of within one year.

After learning of potential problems at the site in 2001 through a citizen complaint, EPA informed FG&E that EPA's Superfund Removal Team would be investigating the site. FG&E moved immediately to examine the site, and upon learning of the problem, notified EPA of the situation, and properly disposed of the transformers.

Under a separate action, EPA's Superfund Removal Program is currently working with FG&E on a cleanup of a larger area of the site to address other issues, including asbestos, containers of waste, liquid mercury, lead-acid batteries, and any remaining PCB contamination.

PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, are a class of chemical compounds widely used in electrical equipment before concern about their toxicity and environmental persistence led to a ban on their production in 1977.