Prairie du Chien Facility Receives EPA Approval for PCB Storage

December 2, 2016

Prairie du Chien Facility Receives EPA Approval for PCB Storage

Solomon Corporation’s , Wisconsin has officially received approval for commercial storage of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The new permit allows the Prairie du Chien facility to accept untested equipment, as well as equipment known to be contaminated.

Prior to the new permit approval, the facility could only accept equipment that had been tested and was PCB free. In addition to untested equipment for reuse or recycling, the new permit allows the Prairie du Chien facility to accept known PCB-contaminated equipment.

“EPA Region 5 had asked us to limit the untested equipment being brought into the facility to repair loads only,” said Bob Baird, Environmental Manager.

What are PCBs?

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are a group of synthetic chemicals that have been used in many different products, including electrical equipment. They are known carcinogens and tend to have dioxin-like properties. Health effects can range from acne-like skin conditions to suppressed immune system response and cancer. The chemical is unusually stable and has the ability to withstand the effects of normal temperature variations and light. This stability allows it to bio-accumulate; if not properly disposed of it will build up in the environment and food chain. Because of its toxicity and bioaccumulative nature, disposal has been strictly regulated since 1979.

Every Solomon Corporation new hire completes PCB awareness training. Additionally, the company provides hazardous waste training for all employees who handle containment of contaminated materials.

Completing the approval process

“We set an aggressive plan to get the licensing approval process completed. EPA Region 5 and the City of Prairie du Chien really worked with us to get it done,” said Baird. The facility opened on April 12; Solomon’s permit was approved and took effect October 11. Typically, the process takes more than a year.

PCB regulations spell out specifically what is required for the application. It includes developing a closure plan, which delineates management of closing the facility in an environmentally safe way and a review of financial resources to do so. It also includes developing contingency plans for accidents such as a fire or leak. Once the application is complete, there is an internal review process, followed by a 60-day period for comments from the public, which allows the company to address any concerns.

Improving customer service

For smaller electrical co-ops and utilities, as well as industrial customers who don’t have the resources to maintain testing facilities and personnel, it will save time and money in logistics and shipping. “It takes the responsibility of testing from the customers, and places that responsibility of testing oil samples on us,” said Bob. “We can accept it before it is tested, store it, test it, and process it according to the test results.”

Meeting Solomon’s green initiatives

Prior to approval, it had to be shipped to the Solomon, Kansas facility for consolidation and disposal. The commercial storage permit will allow us to better serve our customers in this region by giving the Wisconsin facility the same capabilities to receive equipment as our other facilities. “This reduces the number of miles it has to travel for processing, which reduces our carbon footprint,” Baird said. The primary goal, he said, is to be environmentally responsible according to state and federal regulations regarding handling of contaminated materials to avoid widespread contamination.

“We chose the Prairie du Chien location with these capabilities in mind,” Baird said, so there were no modifications required to the facility or additional equipment to meet EPA standards for PCB storage.