PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyl, is not a new substance. It’s been used in a variety of materials like electronics, paint, coatings, adhesives and flame-retardants for decades. Since the 1970s, the use of PCBs have been widely banned because of environmental and public health concerns, but about 10-percent of those chemicals produced since 1929 are still in the environment.
For the demolition industry, the EPA has stressed the importance of recognizing PCB containing materials in jobs and taking the proper precautions. Yet despite PCBs being around for decades, the regulations dictating how they should be handled in demolition are a relatively new issue. James A. Graham recently explored the relationship of PCBs and demolition contractors for Demolition Magazine.
The potential fallout for failing to properly comply with PCB regulations in place could include both civil and criminal implications for improperly handling, abating, remediating or disposing of these man-made chemicals in building components.
The Toxic Substance Control Act regulations put in place cleanup and disposal requirements for building materials containing PCBs and differentiates proper processes for PCB bulk product waste and PCB remediation waste. These regulations also aim to drive contractors to develop standard solutions for each project, but the EPA has noted that participation has fallen short to this point, possibly due to a lack of awareness.
In the current landscape, addressing the presence of PCBs in pre-surveys is too often by-passed. Despite an owners silence on the issue, however, failing to dispose of these hazardous waste materials in the proper manner can still lead to severe punishment. Add in the apparent knowledge gap on regulations that exists between federal agencies and those that enforce compliance on a state and local level and this becomes a complicated issue that introduces a lot of risk to a contractor.
At Demolition Technologies, we take pride in addressing all worker and environmental protection and compliance issues before starting any demolition project. For more information about our processes and our capabilities, give us a call at 918-379-0966.