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Release Date: 08/19/1997
Contact Information: Leo Kay, Press Office, (617) 918-4154

BOSTON -- The Environmental Protection Agency reached an agreement with Connecticut Light and Power that requires the electric company to pay a $10,500 fine for failing to expeditiously clean up a PCB oil spill last year that was caused when a storm felled an electrical transformer near a pond in Greenwich, Conn.

A little more than a month after the spill, barrels containing PCB waste were still left near the pond. The federal Toxic Substances Control Act, which regulates PCBs, requires that drums be labeled, stored no longer than 30 days at a site that has no containment, and that the company obtain authorization for storing the PCBs before removal.

"Today's settlement includes a fair, yet appropriate, penalty for the string of events that took place last year. We are pleased that Connecticut Light and Power has cooperated throughout the process," said John P. DeVillars, administrator of the EPA's New England office.

In March of 1996 a storm knocked down an electrical transformer
on Cornelia Drive. The transformer oil contained 74 parts per million of PCBs that spilled into a catch basin, through a conduit and ultimately into a private pond near Cornelia Drive.

Shortly thereafter, the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection inspected the area and found two PCB-containing barrels near the pond. The barrels failed to have proper marking to indicate the date they were first used to store the PCB wastes. The soil near the pond still had visible amounts of transformer oil, and the pond had a sheen of oil across the surface. Inspectors also noticed the oil sheen near where the pond feeds a small stream.

PCBs are no longer manufactured but remain in use as non-conductive, fire-resistant additives to coolant liquids in heavy electrical equipment. They are extremely stable chemical compounds that resist breakdown once released into the environment, and are known to accumulate in fish and other organisms.

The CT DEP referred this case to the EPA when the utilities challenged DEP's jurisdiction under state law to enforce against companies found in violation of PCB requirements.