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NSLS ESH Highlight #20

Environmental Awareness Issues

Date: July 31, 2000
Editor: R. Casey, N. Gmür

This will provide you with guidance when disposing of environmentally sensitive compounds such as PCBs, lead, mercury and lithium.

PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyls)

PCBs are regulated in the USA by the 1976 Toxic Substance Control Act and were banned from production in the USA by the EPA in 1979. While efforts have been made to rid the NSLS of PCB (500 ppm) and PCB-contaminated (50 ppm - 500 ppm) containing equipment, we still find some, such as old capacitors. Here is some guidance on what to do if you find old, oil-containing equipment.

  1. Does it have a label saying "Non PCB"(Oil filled capacitors manufactured in the US after 1979 are required to be labeled by the manufacturer)? If so, dispose of it as oil-containing equipment.
  2. If not, does it have a nameplate identifying the trade name of the dielectric fluid, e.g. Aroclor? See the Introduction: Oil/PCB Management Subject Area for more trade names
  3. If no such label, does it have a date (these are sometimes buried in a code number)? If the date is 1980 are more recent, the oil does not have PCBs. If the date is 1979 or earlier, be suspicious.If it is 1970 or earlier, assume it contains PCBs.Dispose as PCB-containing oil.
  4. If no date, then refer to the guidance in the Oil/PCB Management Subject Area for Known PCB Equipment Found at BNL.
  5. If you are still unsure, search for and inquire from the manufacturer.Otherwise contact the NSLS ES&H Coordinator, Nicholas Gmr (x2490), for assistance.
  6. If you find a leaking capacitor that you suspect contains PCBs, do not touch or move the capacitor. Immediately contact the NSLS ES&H Coordinator. For non-PCB oil leaks, contact John Aloi (x7018).
  7. When sorting through or working with old capacitors, it is good practice to wear rubber gloves.
  8. Contact John Aloi for guidance in disposing of PCB-containing equipment.
Printed Circuit Boards
  • Boards may be discarded into the scrap metal load lugger (outside Bldg. 725 east roll up door) if components containing toxic metals such as mercury switches, mercury relays, nickel-cadmium batteries or lithium batteries have been removed. Lead (Pb) solder still on the board is acceptable.
  • If not collected for recycling, the boards must be containerized, labeled with a Hazardous Waste label (due to the lead in the solder) and placed in the NSLS 90 Day Haz-Store Building for disposal through Waste Management. The Hazardous Waste Control Form goes to John Aloi.
Excess Equipment

Most equipment may be dispositioned through Supply and Material once toxic components have been removed.More information can be found on the How do I Manage this Waste Stream? web page. Look specifically under the entries for batteries, computers, electrical equipment, excess equipment lead, mercury, oil, and PCBs.

Regulatory Importance

Improper disposal of hazardous materials can result in fines and penalties by regulatory agencies.Always contact a member of the NSLS ESH Staff if you have any questions. Additional assistance may be obtained from the Environmental Compliance Representative or the Oil/PCB Subject Matter Expert.