Reducing Your Liability By Choosing A Proper Partner For Disposal Of Pcb-Contaminated Materials (Part II)

November 20, 2013

In Part I of our article on how to eliminate risk of PCB violations and liabilities, we discussed three things every power generation company should know about a disposal partner, the role of CERCLA regulations in regard to cleanup, and why any electric utility company should perform their own on-site inspections of their chosen disposal company.

We’ll finish our two-part article by discussing records, documentation, permits, insurance, and other evidence that may lead you to find a reputable disposal company for your PCB-contaminated equipment.

It’s important to check their records. When you visit a disposal company and perform your inspection, ask to see if there’s any PCB record keeping on file. You should be able to see an annual summary and annual document logs that they submit to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The disposal company should be able to show you examples of certificates of destruction, as these are kept on file for three years or more (with some disposal companies, these are often kept on file forever). If the disposal company accepts manifested loads of waste, then they should have records of all incoming and outgoing equipment. You should ask to see their files of manifest waste. The disposal company should also have records of all their downstream vendors (anyone they’re using for fluid or equipment decontamination services). Ask your contact at the disposal company if they’ve done their due diligence and inspected all their downstream vendors. Lastly, check their income statement and balance sheet to make sure that they aren’t running in the red.

Pay attention to programs, permits, and insurance. The disposal company should be able to show you evidence of a written safety program for all their employees, as well as a set of written waste disposal practices, policies, and procedures. They should be able to show you certificates of insurance-including workman’s comp, automobile liability insurance, pollution insurance, general liability, and umbrella coverage. Coverage may vary from company to company, but most should have a minimum of $5 million in coverage. More is certainly better, and some disposal companies have coverage up to $15 million.

Ask about violations. You should be able to ask for and see a clear history of any violations in the last 5 years-State or Federal. If they don’t have records on-site, you can typically get a list of these violations by going to an EPA website or by making a Freedom of Information Act request. These violations are typically related to exceeding regulatory waste amounts, improperly disposed-of waste, or failure to dispose of equipment or waste in the amount of time they’re permitted. Use this information to make a judgment on whether the disposal company is a good waste storage and elimination partner for your company or utility.

What’s their closure plan? All things must come to an end. If they have a commercial storage permit, you should ask the disposal company if they have a written closure plan for their facility. In the disposal business, companies have to show the EPA how they intend to close the facility and dispose of their maximum quantity of waste. In addition, the disposal company has to have some form of closure funding in place for the EPA to draw upon after the facility is closed. This is essentially extra insurance that provides additional funding to help clean up during “worst case scenarios” after closure.

In the end. The idea behind carefully choosing a proper partner for disposal of PCB-contaminated materials is to reduce your liability in every aspect. Most power generation and distribution companies don’t know that they have the right to inspect every aspect of the disposal company they’re intending to contract with. You should know that you can ask for all supporting reports, permits, financials, and other relevant documents because they’re absolutelytied to your future solvency.