Frequent Questions about the Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCB) Guidance Reinterpretation
On this page:
- How long do I have to comment on this proposal?
- Why has EPA developed this proposed PCB guidance reinterpretation?
- What is the difference between remediation waste and bulk product waste?
- Why did EPA decide to issue this reinterpretation now?
- How do you know if a building is contaminated with PCBs?
- Will this reinterpretation make disposing of PCB waste more expensive?
- Who will likely be affected by this reinterpretation?
- Is it safe to dispose of PCBs in non-TSCA landfills?
Answer: The comment period was from February 29, 2012 to March 30, 2012, and is now closed.
Answer: EPA has developed this proposed PCB guidance reinterpretation to further protect public health and the environment. The proposed reinterpretation ensures that building materials contaminated with PCBs have disposal options that are efficient, safe, and straightforward. For example, this reinterpretation will mean that the disposal options for the masonry are the same as for the attached PCB caulk. EPA has developed this proposed PCB guidance reinterpretation to further protect public health and the environment. The proposed reinterpretation ensures that building materials contaminated with PCBs have disposal options that are efficient, safe, and straightforward. For example, this reinterpretation will mean that the disposal options for the masonry are the same as for the attached PCB caulk.
Answer: PCB remediation waste is waste containing PCBs as a result of a spill or release (date and concentration limits apply), e.g., PCB-contaminated soil, sediments, and concrete. PCB bulk product waste is waste derived from products manufactured to contain PCBs in a non-liquid state at 50 ppm or greater. Typical examples are caulk, paint, and sealants. The cleanup and disposal requirements for PCB remediation waste and bulk product waste are different.
Answer: In recent years, EPA has learned a great deal about the extent to which products manufactured to contain PCBs (e.g., paint and caulk) were used in many buildings, including schools, before the manufacture of PCBs was banned by the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). As more buildings were discovered to have PCB contamination, it was also discovered that sometimes PCBs leach from those PCB manufactured products into attached porous building materials. EPA has received many requests to address difficulties the regulated community faces when disposing of this waste properly. EPA is issuing this proposed reinterpretation to address these concerns and to further protect public health and the environment.
Answer: PCBs were manufactured from the late 1920s until 1979 when their manufacture was banned by the TSCA. Caulk and other PCB containing products like paint and sealants were used in many buildings in the 1950s through the 1970s. In general, schools and buildings built after 1978 do not contain PCBs in caulk or other products. Building owners can look through historical records to help determine if PCB-manufactured products were used in the building. However, sampling is the only way to be certain if a building has PCB contamination.
Answer: No. For situations where PCB caulk, paint, etc. remains attached to building materials, this reinterpretation allows for more efficient removal and disposal. It will reduce costs to owners and operators and allow for faster removal and disposal.
Answer: Owners of buildings that have PCB-contaminated building material may be affected by this reinterpretation. This reinterpretation, by classifying both the products containing PCBs (e.g., paint, caulk) and the attached building material as PCB bulk product waste, will impact the disposal options for the waste.
Answer: EPA has determined PCB bulk product waste can be safely disposed of in certain non-TSCA approved landfills (those that have been permitted, licensed, or registered by a State as a municipal or non-municipal non-hazardous waste landfill). EPA established this as a disposal option for PCB bulk product waste in its 1998 rulemaking for disposal of PCBs. Additionally, EPA evaluated the fate and transport of PCBs leaching from landfills into groundwater using EPA's peer reviewed Industrial Waste Management Evaluation Model (IWEM). This evaluation supports EPA's determination that PCB bulk product waste can be safely disposed of in certain non-TSCA approved landfills as it showed that these wastes are unlikely to migrate into groundwater or soil.