Disposal of PCB electrical equipment

A distinct section within the activities for hazardous waste disposalis represented by disposal of electrical equipment containing PCB oil.

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are a particular, cattish waste type because it doesn’t cause an immediate, imminent, visible danger, compared with other wastes with a high danger degree, more commonly known by the general public, for example cyanides. PCBs have a serious impact upon human health and environment, which includes carcinogen effects, reproductive function injury, changes of the immune system, loss of biological diversity etc. – slow evolution effects.

PCB compounds were discovered in 1920 and used starting with 1929 in USA, for long time being considered to be a scientific miracle due to special characteristics they had in operation. They were produced in many of industrialized countries, with wide use especially due to dielectric and insulating feature, thus finding a wide application as hydraulic and heat insulating fluids, especially in high voltage transformers and capacitors.

The issue related to PCB came to light further to some serious incidents arising from accidental contamination with these substances confirmed in Japan in 1968, thus recognizing the need to some normative regulation aiming the PCB production control, use and disposal. Therefore, after finding out the negative impact upon human health and environment, their production was forbidden in USA and afterwards in other countries, starting with 1976. Nevertheless, PCBs had already contaminated the entire planet.

Therefore, it is understood the concern SETCAR has in developing, starting with 2004, a complete service for the great number of problems generated by PCB waste;

  • physical-chemical analyses for pollution identification and determination of PCB concentration in liquid and solid waste;
  • taking over, packaging, labelling and authorized transport of PCB waste;
  • temporary storage of PCB waste;
  • dismantling and decontamination of PCB electrical equipment (capacitors, transformers, switchers etc.);
  • decontamination of PCB contaminated soils;
  • decontamination of PCB containing waters;
  • disposal of PCB oils;
  • disposal of PCB waste.

In order to put into application most of activities mentioned above, SETCAR designed, built and authorized some plants:

  • Plant for dismantling and decontamination of electrical equipment containing PCB oil – PCB electrical equipment (capacitors, transformers, switchers etc.) is dismantled and separated on components (ferrous and non-ferrous materials, PCB oil, paper and cardboard with PCB etc.). After dismantling, the materials are processed in own plants specialized for PCB disposal. For transformers which are to be reused, non-distructive dismantling takes place, PCB oil is drained, components are decontaminated and the transformer is reassembled;
  • Plant for PCB oil disposal – PCB oils are disposed and also small materials impregnated with PCB oil, resulted from equipment dismantling: paper, cardboard, wooden pieces etc.
  • Mobile unit for indirect thermal desorption (ITD) – used for disposal of soils contaminated with PCB oil;
  • Plant for disposal of PCB containing industrial waters;
  • Mobile unit for chemical de-chlorination of PCB oils from high voltage transformers– this plant is used for PCB disposal from high voltage transformer oil, the risks for dismantling and transport costs being eliminated, some transformers being un-transportable because of oversize and weight. The operation principle of this plant is that of an artificial kidney, by connecting the plant to the transformer, this way being made the PCB oil recirculation through the plant and, both PCB in oil and filtration, as well as dehydration, being achieved.

Having all technical endowments previously mentioned, but also the necessary know-how for collection and disposal of PCB oil electrical equipment, only in the last 3 years, more than 700 contracts have been completed with customers among which we mention: ITM Filiasi (former manufacturer of PCB oil electrical equipment), Electrica, ArcelorMittal Galati, Dacia Automobile, EON Moldova, OMV–Petrom, Nuclearelectrica Cernavoda, Transelectrica, Autoritatea Feroviara Romana etc., but also customers from Serbia and Montenegro. Within these contracts, over 2000 tons of PCB oil electrical equipment were collected and disposed, as well as PCB oils.