ExxonMobil will pay a fine of $2.64 million to the Environmental Protection Agency for disposing of and improperly handling polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) on an offshore oil and gas platform in the Santa Barbara Channel, off the Southern California coast. This was a violation of the federal Toxic Substances Control Act. Wayne Nastri, administrator for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region, observed:
Today’s settlement sends a clear signal that companies must follow PCB regulations to protect communities and our environmental resources. The EPA will not hesitate to take enforcement actions against companies that fail to properly handle and dispose of PCBs.
Between 2002 and 2005, two large electrical transformers located on Platform Hondo, part of Exxon’s Santa Ynez Unit, leaked nearly 400 gallons of PCB-contaminated fluid. It was reported that Exxon allowed one of the transformers to leak for almost two years before repairing it. The leaking from the transformers constitutes illegal disposal of PCBs, a violation of the Toxic Substances Control Act. Additionally, Exxon failed to ensure that workers who cleaned up the leaked fluid were provided protective clothing or equipment to protect against direct contact with and inhalation of PCBs. Exxon replaced the two transformers with non-PCB containing transformers in 2005.
We learned a great deal about PCBs, which are man-made organic chemicals, in our Monsanto case. PCBs are used in paints, industrial equipment, plastics, and cooling oil for electrical transformers. More than 1.5 billion pounds of PCBs were manufactured in the United States before the EPA banned the production of this chemical class in 1978, and many PCB-containing materials are still in use today. When released into the environment, PCBs remain for decades. Tests have shown that PCBs cause cancer in animals and are suspected carcinogens in humans. Acute PCB exposure can also adversely affect the nervous, immune, and endocrine systems as well as liver function. Concerns about human health and the extensive presence and lengthy persistence of PCBs in the environment led Congress to enact the Toxic Substances Control Act in 1976. For more information on PCB regulation and enforcement, as well as the Toxic Substances Control Act enforcement in general, you can visit the EPA’s website at:
www.epa.gov/region09/toxic/pcb/ or www.epa.gov/compliance/civil/tsca/index.html.
Source: EPA News Release
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