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EPA and OP-TECH Agree on Enhanced Environmental Testing for PCB Waste

Release Date: 01/12/2009
Contact Information: Elias Rodriguez (212) 637-3664, rodriguez.elias@epa.gov

(New York, N.Y.) A Syracuse, New York company that specializes in environmental and industrial services recently entered into an agreement settling a complaint with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for violations of the federal law that requires materials containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) to be listed properly on manifests. As part of this settlement, OP-TECH Environmental Services, Inc. will engage in a $250,000 project to purchase and utilize specialized equipment to enhance its sampling for PCBs in loads of waste entering and leaving its Waverly, New York facility. OP-TECH has paid a $12,200 penalty.

“For those that handle or dispose of waste that may potentially contain PCBs, our message is simple, get it tested first,” said Alan J. Steinberg, EPA Regional Administrator. “OP-TECH has agreed to expand testing of its customer’s waste, which will protect the environment by avoiding the potential for improper handling and disposal of PCBs.”

EPA expects that the comprehensive testing that OP-TECH has agreed to undertake could serve as a model for other firms that transport or handle materials that potentially contain PCBs. It is designed to detect harmful chemical compounds that are sometimes listed improperly on manifests and not identified as PCBs. The company will use a sophisticated piece of equipment called a gas chromatograph with a mass spectrometer detector to analyze all incoming shipments of waste for PCB content. This testing goes above and beyond anything required by federal law and will result in added protection to the environment. The sampling program, which will be provided at no cost to OP-TECH’s customers, will remain in operation for at least five years.

Cited under the federal Toxic Substances Control Act, EPA’s complaint against OP-TECH highlights the importance of understanding and following federal regulations regarding handling and disposal of toxic substances. Federal law requires special disposal methods for PCBs, which can cause a wide range of adverse health effects and are known to cause cancer in animals. PCBs were domestically manufactured and widely used from 1929 until their manufacture was banned in 1979, when Congress strictly limited the manufacture and use of this toxic substance.

EPA will continue to carefully scrutinize hazardous waste activities in and around the region to protect public health and the environment.

To learn more about PCB waste and proper disposal, visit: http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/hazard/tsd/pcbs/index.htm

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