There are three main federal laws which apply to ballast recycling:
The most critical regulation is the Toxic Substance Control Act, or TSCA which is an EPA law which regulates PCB disposal. Under 40 CFR Section 761.65, TSCA sets extremely strict standards for most PCB's but provides an exemption for non-leaking, small capacitors. A small capacitor is defined as one having less than 3 pounds of dielectric fluid, and/or less than 100 cubic inches. Each ballast contains a capacitor with approximately 1 ounce of PCB fluid. As TSCA allows for the disposal of non-leaking capacitors in a municipal solid waste landfill, PCB ballasts are technically allowed to be disposed of in this way. However, leaking capacitors must be disposed of only at a TSCA permitted facility. In addition, ballasts which contain potting material that is contaminated with over 50 ppm PCB's must be completely disposed of. These disposal regulations are enforced by the U.S. EPA and its regional offices.
When TSCA was written in 1976, the authors did not foresee the large volumes of PCB ballasts that were going to be disposed of due to utility rebate programs and large lighting retrofit programs. Prior to the establishment of such programs, ballasts were discarded very infrequently due to their long life, usually ten to thirty years. Stricter regulation of PCB ballasts is still being considered.
The second law which regulates PCB's is the Comprehensive Environmental Compliance and Liability Act of 1980, or CERCLA which is also known as the Superfund law. Under this law any release or even threat of release of a hazardous substance constitutes a "CERCLA release", and requires immediate cleanup action and notification by all responsible parties. As a result, discarding over 16 ballasts in a municipal landfill, which is equal to an aggregate of over one pound of PCB's, technically creates a Superfund liability.
Thirdly, the Department of Transportation (DOT) regulates the safe transport of hazardous chemicals on federal highways. Ballasts must be packed in standard drums and marked with a Class 9 label. They may be transported using a common carrier in most states, but a number of state laws require use of a hazardous waste hauler.
|Recent changes in the regulations for disposal of ballasts:
The PCB MEGA Rule for the disposal of PCB
Code of Federal Regulations for PCB and UWR (exact wording of the regulations)
EPA PCB Webpages
EPA's PCB Home page
PCB Final Rule Summary and links (effective 08/29/99)
Mega Rule (Federal Register 40 CFR 761 - Dec.10, 1999)