Environment Agency urges companies to register their PCBs

The Environment Agency is urging companies which hold polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) to comply with the law and register the compounds to enable their phase-out (see related story).

The Agency has announced the publication of the statutory register of the holders of PCBs in England and Wales, which includes 274 companies, who between them hold over 39,722 items of equipment – such as transformers and power factor capacitors – which use PCBs.

“The phasing out of PCBs is good news for the environment,” said Paul Leinster, the Agency’s Director of Environmental Protection. “PCBs – which accumulate in fatty tissues – can harm wild birds, river and sea fish and wild mammals. PCBs can be substituted by other less harmful, other synthetic liquids or by the redesign of equipment so that liquid dielectrics are unnecessary. Many PCBs will have to be removed or decommissioned by the end of this year and nearly all use of PCBs will have ceased by 2010. The equipment exempt from destruction this year will mostly have come to the end of its useful life by 2010.”

The register can be inspected at local Environment Agency offices during normal working hours, and will be published on the internet. As well as PCBs it also includes holders of polychlorinated terphenyls, monomethyl-dibromo-diphenyl methane, monomethyl-dichloro-diphenyl methane and monomethyl-tetrachloro-diphenal methane.

Businesses that have not yet registered with the Environment Agency are encouraged to contact the Agency to become legally registered and to receive information on the phasing out of PCBs. Stocks of the chemical which are at a concentration of more than 50 parts per million must be registered, and concentrations of greater than 500 parts per million must be properly disposed of by the end of this year, though some exemptions will occur.

Holders of PCB’s can find out about their obligations either from the Environment Agency website, or from: PCB Registration Unit, Environment Agency, 10 Albert Embankment, London SE1 7SP; telephone 020 8305 4046; fax 020 8305 4027; email [email protected].

Equivalent arrangements exist for Scotland, through the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, and for Northern Ireland, through the Northern Ireland Environment and Heritage Service.

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