Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)

PCBs are substances that were in widespread use prior to the 1970s. Their non-flammability, chemical stability, high boiling point, and electrical insulating properties made PCBs useful for many industrial and commercial applications like electrical, heat transfer, and hydraulic equipment. They were also used in paints, plastics, rubber products, pigments, dyes, carbonless copy paper and many other areas. Over 1.5 billion pounds of PCBs were produced in the US before they were banned in 1977 due to their persistent effects to human and environmental health.

At Army installations, PCBs were primarily encountered in dielectric fluid in transformers. Alabama Power has ownership of the power grid at Fort Rucker, which encompasses most power lines, equipment, transformers, and substation.  Fort Rucker has ownership of specialized equipment, which includes runway lighting and transformers incorporated in that system, and the hospital's high energy X-ray/MRI systems along with their transformers. To ensure proper handling and disposal for older transformers owned by Fort Rucker, current policy at is to test all transformer fluid prior to transformer disposal through the DLADS. This testing is handled by the DPW Environmental and Natural Resources Division.

Light fixtures from older buildings are also likely to contain PCBs in the light ballasts. Because it is not practical to test them all at a laboratory, we assume the PCBs to be present and handle them in a controlled manner per all existing regulations and procedures.

Personnel involved in older building demolition, repair, or electrical work, should ensure that the proper handling and disposal actions occur for any light ballasts or transformers that are removed from service. Contact your organization's Environmental Officer or the DPW Environmental and Natural Resources Division (255-1656) for more information.