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Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)

Public Notice: Safety-Kleen Systems, Inc.

This serves as a public notice of Proposed Renewal and Modification of a PCB Alternative Treatment and Commercial Storage Approval for the Safety-Kleen Systems, Inc. facility located at 601 Riley Road, East Chicago, Indiana.

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Safety-Kleen Systems, Inc. (Safety-Kleen) would be allowed to continue operating as an alternative treatment and commercial polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) storage facility under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) if a proposed Approval is renewed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Safety-Kleen has had an Approval from EPA since 1998 to treat PCBs in used oil. This public comment period is for the proposed renewal of this Approval and modification of some of the operating parameters of Safety-Kleen’s hydrotreater. EPA is soliciting technical comments from the public on the approval prior to renewing the Approval.

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) is also proposing to issue a PCB permit renewal to Safety-Kleen during the same time period as EPA. Information on the IDEM permit can be found on their website.

Safety-Kleen is a used oil re-refinery. They collect used oil from oil change facilities, automotive shops, car dealerships, industry, and do-it-yourself oil pickup centers. This oil is then re-refined at their facility in East Chicago. Their re-refinery process produces lubricant oils which they sell as a product and intermediate products including ethylene glycol, fuel, and asphalt extenders. Safety-Kleen does not pick up oil that is known to contain PCBs. However, on occasion, PCBs do make it into oil that they pick up. Safety-Kleen requested a renewal and modification of their PCB approval to allow them to treat the oil that becomes PCB contaminated on occasion.

Safety-Kleen’s re-refinery process includes dehydration, vacuum distillation, and hydrotreatment. Hydrotreatment is the alternative treatment process in this proposed PCB Approval renewal. Hydrotreatment is a common process in petroleum refining and re-refining industries. This process, also called catalytic dechlorination or catalytic hydrogenation, uses hydrogen gas in a high temperature, high pressure catalyzed reaction to remove sulfur, chlorine, oxygen and other chemical impurities from the oil. The catalytic reaction with hydrogen destroys the PCBs by breaking the carbon-chlorine bond in the molecule. The hydrotreater is operated in the same manner to treat PCBs as operated to remove other impurities from non-PCB used oil.

EPA received a demonstration test plan and application from Safety-Kleen in 2015 for an approval modification and renewal for the hydrotreatment of PCBs. The modification request was to increase the feed rate to the hydrotreater from ≤120 gallons per minute (gpm) to ≤175 gpm for the treatment of PCB-contaminated oil (the same feed rate for non-PCB oil). EPA reviewed and approved the Demonstration Test Plan. Safety-Kleen then conducted a demonstration test in January and March 2016 with EPA and IDEM representatives present to witness the demonstration test.

The purpose of the demonstration test was to determine whether Safety-Kleen can achieve EPA’s performance standard of less than 2 parts per million (ppm) PCBs. During the demonstration test, Safety-Kleen successfully demonstrated treatment of PCBs to less than 2 ppm. Additionally, EPA worked with Safety-Kleen on analytical method development for the analyses of the treated oil to confirm that the oil is less than 2 ppm total PCBs after treatment. Safety-Kleen successfully demonstrated they could accurately and precisely analyze for PCBs. The data from the demonstration were used to determine the draft operating conditions for the draft operating approval for alternative treatment (feed rate, temperature, pressure, and PCB feed concentration).

The proposed approval renewal would also allow Safety-Kleen to commercially store up to 377,000 gallons of PCB oil in bulk storage tanks and up to 3,575 gallons of liquid and solid PCB waste in non-bulk storage containers.

EPA has determined that the operation of the process does not pose unreasonable risk to health or the environment.

Before a final decision is made, EPA is taking comments from the public on the proposed approval for Safety-Kleen located at 601 Riley Rd, East Chicago, Indiana.

If Safety-Kleen hydrotreats the PCB contaminated oil, then the oil is recycled (reused) as opposed to being burned in an incinerator, or by some other approved method, and does not need to be potentially transported long distances (PCB incinerators are 800-1500 miles from East Chicago). Hydrotreatment is an enclosed process with no air emissions.

The draft PCB alternative treatment and commercial storage approval is open for public comment for 60 days from June 21, 2019 to August 31, 2019. Copies of the draft PCB alternative treatment and commercial storage approval and supporting documents (i.e., Safety-Kleen application) are located at the Robert A. Pastrick Library as well as posted online. Comments are being accepted on the draft approval, not the supporting documents. EPA and IDEM are holding a public meeting on July 16, 2019, at the Robert A. Pastrick Library (see below).

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Facility, Repository and Contact Information

General Facility InformationThis is a Google Earth map showing the location of Safety-Kleen in East Chicago, IndianaClick anywhere on this map to view a larger version.

City: East Chicago
State: Indiana
County: Lake
EPA ID #: IND077042034
Alias(es): N/A

Repository and Public Meeting Location

Name: Robert A. Pastrick Library
Street Address: 1008 W. Chicago Avenue
City/State: East Chicago, Indiana
Opening Hours:

9 a.m. - 8 p.m. (Monday - Thursday)

9 a.m. - 5 p.m. (Friday)

9 a.m. - 5 p.m. (Saturday)

Closed (Sunday)

Contact Information

EPA Public Affairs Specialist:
Rafael P. Gonzalez
800-621-8431, Ext. 60269
8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., weekdays

Project Manager:
Lisa Graczyk
Fax: 312-692-2027
8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., weekdays

For other inquiries about this public notice, please contact us using the web form below.

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Important Dates

  • June 21 to August 31, 2019 - Public Comment Period
  • July 16, 2019 – Public Availability Session and Public Hearing
    • 4:00 p.m. - Safety-Kleen Presentation and Question and Answer Session
    • 5:00 p.m. - EPA/IDEM Public Meeting and Information Session
    • 6:00 p.m. - Public Hearing
    • 7:00 p.m. - End

Key Documents

Below is the Draft PCB Alternative Treatment and Commercial Storage Approval that is open for public comment:

Fact sheets, in English and Spanish, have been developed about this proposed approval:

Below are the supporting documents upon which the Draft PCB Approval is based: 

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Please use the form below to send us comments or questions. Be sure to include your e-mail address if you’d like a response.