Ballast Recycling / Disposal

Eastern Environmental Technologies will help you lighten the burden of PCB BALLAST RECYCLING / Disposal

Does your fluorescent light ballast contain PCB’s?

Before EPA banned the manufacture of PCB’s in 1978, PCBs were used in the manufacturing of fluorescent light ballasts. The use of PCB’s in ballasts manufactured prior to 1978 was not regulated by the EPA. All light ballasts manufactured since 1978 which do not contain PCBs should be marked by the manufacturer with the statement “No PCB’s”. For those manufactured prior to that time , or for those ballasts which contain no statement regarding PCB content, you should assume that they do contain PCB’s. If the ballast does contain PCBs, it is located inside the small capacitor. There would be approximately 1 to 101/2 ounces of PCB fluid in the capacitor itself. If the ballast fails, the capacitor may break open, allowing the PCB oil to drip out of the fixture. The capacitor does not always leak when the ballast fails, but when it does happen, measures should be taken to limit or avoid personal exposure.

Why are PCBs harmful to our human health and the environment?

PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) belong to a broad family of organic chemicals known as chlorinated hydrocarbons. PCBs are produced by the combination of one or more chlorine atoms and biphenyl molecules. Virtually all PCBs in existence today have been synthetically manufactured.

PCBs range in consistency from heavy oily liquids to waxy solids. Prior to 1979 PCBs were widely used in electrical equipment such as transformers, capacitors, switches, and ballasts.

According to EPA, exposure to PCBs can cause chloracne (a painful disfiguring skin illness), nausea, dizziness, eye irritation and bronchitis. Ingestion of PCBs can cause liver damage and digestion problems.

Eastern Environmental Technologies is a ballast recycler and can provide any service to you and your customers related to the disposal of your PCB contaminated ballasts.

Eastern Environmental Technologies, Inc. will provide complete management and assist you with all activities associated with ongoing ballast removal and disposal activities such as:

  • Provide personalized door to door pick-up at any designated facility.
  • Provide disposal of all PCB waste associated with the ballasts removed from these facilities.
  • Assume all responsibilities and liabilities related to providing this ballast disposal service.
  • Comply with all state and federal regulations.
  • Provide ballast services and transactions that shall be conducted within existing TSCA, EPA, DOT, DEP, and ICC mandates.
  • Pick-up the drums of ballasts, recycle the metals and arrange for the proper delivery to an approved disposal facility.

All Recycling Procedures Are Environmentally Sound!

Packing and Labeling
1. All PCB waste must be packaged in accordance with EPA and DOT regulations. Proper packaging and identification of waste is essential for compliance and safety of our personnel.

2. Solids must be shipped in open top 1A2 spec drums.

3. Liquids must be shipped in closed top DOT 17-E spec drums.

4. Marking must include the DOT shipping name

5. All drummed solid debris for landfill must be 90% full.

6. Any leaking or damaged containers must be overpacked.

7. Closed top drums must have both bungs in place and tightly closed.

8. 85 gallon open top drums may be used only as overpacks and not as dedicated containers for debris, ballasts, or sludge.

9. Open top drums must have a gasket between drum and lid, a usable sealing ring in place and tightened securely.

Only one type of material may be placed in a container, no mixing of waste streams.

The following items must have PCB (ML) labels: PCB containers, capacitors, transformers, article containers, contaminated liquids (50 to 500 PPM) and transport vehicles.

Each container must be clearly and indelibly marked with the following:
a) Date of removal from service for disposal.
b) Unique Identification Number.
c) Generator name and description of material.

1. Site delivery of DOT approved 55 gallon 17 H 1A2 reconditioned steel drums with lid, sealing ring and gasket.

2. All ballasts will move on Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifests, specific state manifests, or a Bill of Lading, in compliance with all local, state, and federal mandates.

3. Any leaking ballasts will be identified and contained in plastic from other non-leaking ballasts. EET accepts leaking ballasts as an accommodation and they are immediately transshipped whole and intact to a US EPA permitted disposal facility and are not processed in any way.

4. Upon receipt of drums at our facility, the ballasts are scheduled for PCB capacitor and potting tar separation while the remaining metal is recycled.

5. The PCB contaminated material is then shipped by Haz Mat carrier to a PCB permitted disposal facility for final disposal.

6. “Complete Computerized Tracking” is to be provided for recording all drum movement, from initial contact to disposal.

7. Final manifestation and a Certificate of Destruction will be provided upon request.

8. Eastern Environmental Technologies, Incorporated (EET) warrants that they have no current violations with any local, state, or federal agencies.

9. All workmanship is guaranteed to be handled in a professional, safe, and legal manner.

FAQ's About PCBs
What are PCBs
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are synthetic chemical compounds consisting of chlorine, carbon and hydrogen. First synthesized in 1881, PCBs are relatively fire-resistant, very stable, do not conduct electricity and have low volatility at normal temperatures. These and other properties have made them desirable components in a wide range of industrial and consumer products. Some of the same properties make PCBs environmentally hazardous — especially their extreme resistance to chemical and biological breakdown by natural processes in the environment. PCBs are also know by their various brand names which include Aroclor, Pyranol, Interteen, and Hyvol.

PCB mixtures are usually light coloured liquids that feel like thick, oily molasses. However, some PCB compounds form sticky, yellow liquids or a brittle gum ranging in colour from amber to black. PCBs are soluble in most organic solvents but are most insoluble in water, so when added to it they sink to the bottom.

Most PCBs are non-volatile at normal temperatures (i.e., below 40 C). However, overheating of electrical equipment containing PCBs can produce emissions of irritating vapours. PCBs are completely destroyed only under extreme heat (over 1100 C) or in the presence of certain combinations of chemical agents and heat.

Where do PCBs come from?
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are a prominent group of chemicals within a class of synthetic substances known collectively as chlorinated organic compounds. All of the PCBs that were produced in North America came from a single manufacturer, Monsanto Company in the United States.

How were PCBs used?
Commercial production of PCBs began in the United States in 1929 in response to the electrical industry’s need for a safer cooling and insulating fluid for industrial transformers and capacitors. This has been the major use for PCBs in Canada. Until other uses were banned in 1977 and 1980, PCBs were also used as hydraulic fluids; as surface coatings for carbonless copy paper; as plasticizers in sealants, caulkings, synthetic resins, rubbers, paints, waxes, and asphalts; and as flame retardants in lubricating oils.

What is the history of the PCB problem?
For the first 25 years of their use, few concerns were raised about any negative impacts of PCB compounds. In the late 1960s, however, the discovery of PCBs in birds in Sweden and the poisoning of 1200 people by rice oil containing PCBs in Japan both focused public attention on the problem. By 1972, scientific evidence suggested that PCBs posed a serious potential hazard to the environment and to human health. While both the manufacture and most non-electrical uses of PCBs were banned in Canada in 1977, the 1985 accidental spill of PCBs being transported near Kenora, Ontario, has again raised public concern – this time over the safe transport and disposal of this hazardous material.

How have PCBs entered the environment?
Ironically, one of the properties of PCBs which most contributed to their widespread industrial use – their chemical stability – is also one of the properties which causes the greatest amount of environmental concern. This unusual persistence coupled with its tendency to accumulate in living organisms, means that PCBs are stored and concentrated in the environment. This bioaccumulation raise concern because of the wide dispersal of PCBs in the global environment and the potential adverse effects they can have on various organisms, including humans.

What are the health effects of PCBs?
While there have been many laboratory experiments and other studies which have tried to determine the full health effects of PCBs on humans, none has been definitive. As a result, even expert opinion varies significantly on this subject. Scientists generally agree it is unlikely that serious injury would result from short-term low-level exposure to PCBs. However, most are concerned about possible adverse health effects of long-term exposure to even low concentrations of these substances. PCBs can enter the body through skin contact, by the inhalation of vapours or by ingestion of food containing PCB residues.

The most commonly observed health effect from extensive exposure to PCBs is chloracne, a painful and disfiguring skin condition, similar to adolescent acne. Liver damage can also result. People who might be exposed to PCBs include those servicing some types of electrical equipment, maintenance workers who clean up spills or leaks of PCB fluids, employees of scrap metal or salvage companies, and waste collection workers.

What are the substitutes for PCBs?
Safer alternatives have been found to take the place of PCBs in all their previous applications. As PCB-filled transformers come to the end of their service life, they are being replaced either with dry-type transformers (for smaller sizes only) or with transformers containing an approved dielectric fluid, such as silicone oils or transformer-grade mineral oil.

What safe destruction technologies are available?
Virtually everyone agrees that the only long-term solution to the PCB problem is to destroy the remaining volume of the chemical not yet dispersed in the environment. The best, most widely used and proven technology for destroying PCBs is high temperature incineration (greater than 1200 C for two seconds dwell time). Properly done, this has been shown to destroy PCBs at an efficiency of 99.9999 percent, leaving an inorganic ash. Smoke stack “scrubbers” are used to remove the hydrogen chloride gas and other compounds which can be formed as by-products of combustion.

Alternatives to incineration include chemical treatment for mineral oils to destroy low levels of PCBs and bacterial treatment. Chemical treatment methods are well developed and used commercially.

Taken from “The PCB Story,” Canadian Council of Resource and Environment Ministers, Toronto, Ontario, 1986.

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