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EPA update on Nicor inspections of gas meters for PCBs

Release Date: 08/29/2007
Contact Information: Karen Thompson, 312 353-8547, thompson.karen@epa.gov

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
No. 07-OPA147

(Chicago, Ill. - Aug. 29, 2007) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 said today that Nicor gas company's inspection of 135 additional homes in Park Ridge, Ill., shows that the problem of PCBs in gas meters in residences is probably not widespread. However, Nicor inspections found residual PCB liquids in gas regulators at Park Ridge Presbyterian Church and Lincoln and George Washington Middle Schools. Although there were no signs of liquids in the buildings, EPA has collected samples of the air in the buildings and is awaiting results.

EPA has asked Nicor to submit a PCB management plan that includes additional control technologies, protocols when liquids are found in meters, and procedures for looking for liquids during routine meter inspections.

In June, Nicor contacted EPA to report the discovery of PCBs in gas meters at four Park Ridge homes and the subsequent cleanups made. EPA inspectors did immediate follow-up testing of the indoor air, soil and hard surfaces and found small amounts of contamination in the soil outside two of the homes.

The contamination likely occurred from spills as Nicor replaced the meters. Nicor conducted a second cleanup. EPA followed up with additional sampling, which did not reveal detectable levels PCBs.

PCBs are mixtures of synthetic chemicals ranging from oily liquids to waxy solids. Because of evidence that PCBs persist in the environment and cause harmful effects, domestic manufacture of commercial mixtures stopped in 1977, existing PCBs continue to be used. EPA data indicates that PCBs are probable cancer-causing substances.

For more information on the health effects, regulations, and cleanup of PCBs, go to www.epa.gov/pcb/.

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