Contact Us


All News Releases By Date


Yankee Nuclear Plant in Rowe to Pay Over $48,000 for PCB Violations

Release Date: 03/21/2006
Contact Information: Paula Ballentine (617) 918-1027

(Boston, Mass. - Mar. 21, 2006) - The owner of the decommissioning nuclear power plant in Rowe, Mass., will pay $48,750 to settle EPA claims that it violated federal PCB regulations.

The company, Yankee Atomic Electric Company, will pay the penalty in settlement of an administrative enforcement action brought by EPA’s New England regional office. The action stems from the improper disposal of steel that had been coated with PCB-contaminated paint. EPA’s complaint, filed on February 15, 2006, alleged that the Yankee Atomic Electric Company violated the federal Toxic Substances Control Act and the conditions of a PCB disposal approval issued by EPA.

According to EPA, Yankee failed to follow the requirements for disposing of the steel from the structure that supported the nuclear reactor. The structure was coated with PCB contaminated paint and subject to EPA’s PCB disposal regulations. At Yankee’s request, EPA’s New England office issued a disposal approval that allowed the company to remove the PCB containing paint and then recycle the steel. The approval required sampling to verify that any remaining PCB contamination fell below specified levels, and required Yankee to notify EPA if it learned of a possible violation of the approval conditions.

The company learned in May 2005 that some of the reactor structure’s steel had been placed in a scrap steel container for collection by a local steel recycler, but had not been sampled for PCBs before the recycler collected and removed the steel from the site. EPA was not notified of this event until June 2005.

Yankee has determined that approximately 50,420 pounds of steel from the reactor structure had been collected by the recycler; the company was able to recover 33,360 pounds, but some 17,060 pounds could not be recovered. This steel had been shipped from the recycler to a smelter in Sayreville, New Jersey, which uses an electric arc furnace to melt scrap steel.

“Yankee’s failure to ensure that the steel was properly sampled and decontaminated resulted in some of the PCB contaminated steel being smelted, which potentially caused the release of PCBs into the environment near the smelter,” said Robert Varney, Regional Administrator of EPA’s New England office. “If Yankee had immediately notified EPA of the problem, as the disposal approval required, EPA may have been able to help in recovering the material before it was smelted.”

“Despite this incident,” continued Varney, “the cleanup of the site, as regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, and EPA, is expected to be completed successfully, and all parties continue to cooperate in this complex endeavor.”

EPA has not filed charges against the steel recycler or the smelter.

For more information, please visit:

# # #