Ministry of Environment

Protocol for Management of PCB Transformers

Procedure Manual
Volume 8, Section 7, Subsection 05.05
July 30, 1996

Purpose

This procedure provides a protocol for use by a manager to authorize removal of decontaminated transformer components or residue from a special waste treatment facility pursuant to sections 19.(2)(b) and 19.(3) of the Hazardous Waste Regulation (formerly Sections 19.(2)(b) and 19.(3) of the Special Waste Regulation).

Procedure

1.0 Introduction

Sections 19.(2)(b) and 19.(3) of the Hazardous Waste Regulation (formerly Sections 19.(2)(b) and 19.(3) of the Special Waste Regulation) control the removal of residue from a treatment facility for disposal to a landfill or for use in an approved management option. One option allows the owner of the residue to remove it from the facility provided the owner demonstrates to the satisfaction of a manager that the residue is not a hazard to human health or the environment as determined by a test protocol or method approved by the Director.

A transformer consists of a casing containing a core immersed in a liquid. The liquid is a mineral oil (usually contaminated with PCB) or Askarel (40 to 80% PCB) . The core consists of tightly wounded aluminum or copper wire laminations encased in paper or wood (porous material).

In accordance with section 53.(1) of the Hazardous Waste Regulation, the following protocol is approved for demonstrating that residues generated in the treatment of transformers containing PCB in mineral oil or Askarel are suitable for disposal at a landfill or other approved option.

2.0 Protocol

This protocol applies only to transformers contaminated with PCB.

2.1 Initial Testing

(a) Obtain a sample of the transformer liquid and test for the PCB concentration in accordance with the procedures in the British Columbia Environmental Laboratory Manual, 1994 Edition (now 2003 Edition).

(b) Depending on the concentration of PCB in the transformer liquid, proceed to step 2.2 , 2.3, 2.4 or 2.5.

2.2 Mineral Oil Transformers Contaminated with Less Than or Equal to 50 ppm PCB

(a) The transformer must be drained carefully to avoid spills and leaks.

(b) The drained oil must be managed as a waste oil hazardous waste.

(c) The transformer casing must be recycled at a metal recovery operation or managed otherwise under the Act if metal recovery is not practical in a particular situation.

(d) Porous material may be deposited in a landfill in accordance with the Act.

2.3 Mineral Oil Transformers Contaminated with > 50-200 ppm PCB

(a) The transformer must be carefully drained, filled with oil containing < 2ppm PCB to cover the core and left to stand for 24 hours, then drained again.

(b) The original drained oil must be removed and managed as a PCB hazardous waste.

(c) The oil used to flush the transformer must be tested and managed as a PCB hazardous waste if the concentration is greater than 50 ppm or as a waste oil hazardous waste if the concentration is less than or equal to 50 ppm.

Submit the results of oil testing for PCBs, including those from the original testing, to a manager, along with transformer manufacturer's name, transformer size and serial number. An approval of the manager must be obtained prior to removal of the waste oil and the transformer casing from the decontamination facility.

(d) The transformer casing must be recycled at a metal recovery operation or managed in a manner approved by a manager.

(e) Porous material may be deposited in a landfill in accordance with the Act.

2.4 Mineral Oil Transformers Contaminated with > 200-10,000 ppm PCB (See note 2)

Each transformer must be processed as follows (see flowchart in Appendix 1):

(a) The transformer must be carefully drained, then either:

(i) decontaminated by autoclaving, solvent cleaning or other similar process, or

(ii) filled with oil containing <2ppm PCB to cover the core and stored for 60 days, at which time the oil within the transformer must be sampled and tested to determine the PCB concentration in the oil.

(b) If decontamination method (a)(i) is used, go to step (c), otherwise go to step (g).

Method (a)(i)

(c) Disassemble the transformer to separate the porous material from the impervious transformer casing of the transformer. Sample both the porous material and the casing interior surface. To sample the interior surface of the casing, the wipe method referred to in note 5 of this protocol must be used. Test the components to determine the concentration of PCBs in the porous material (in mg/kg) and on the casing interior surface (in µg/100 cm²).

(d) If the concentration of PCB in the porous material is equal to or less than 50 mg/kg, a manager may authorize removal of the decontaminated porous material from the facility pursuant to the provisions of sections 19.(2)(b) and 19.(3) of the Hazardous Waste Regulation (see steps l to o)

(e) If the concentration of PCB on the casing surface is less than 10 µg/100 cm², a manager may authorize removal of decontaminated transformer casing from the facility pursuant to the provisions of sections 19.(2)(b) and 19.(3) of the Hazardous Waste Regulation (see steps l to o).

(f) If a decontaminated transformer component does not meet the applicable standard in step (d) or (e), the component must be decontaminated again by following method (a)(i) and retested.

Method (a)(ii)

(g) If the PCB concentration of oil in method (a)(ii) above is equal to or less than 50 ppm, proceed to step (i).

(h) If the PCB concentration of the oil in step (a)(ii) is greater than 50 ppm, the transformer must again be carefully drained, filled with oil containing <2ppm PCB and again stored for 60 days. This step must be repeated and the oil sampled and tested to determine the PCB concentration until the concentration of PCB in the oil within the transformer is less than or equal to 50 ppm. Alternately, the decontamination method could be switched to that described in (a)(i).

(i) The transformer must be stored for a further 30 days, at which time the oil must be again sampled and tested to determine the PCB concentration.

(j) If the concentration of PCB in the oil after the storage period in step (i) is less than or equal to 50 ppm, a manager may authorize removal of the decontaminated materials from the facility pursuant to the provisions of sections 19.(2)(b) and 19.(3) of the Hazardous Waste Regulation (formerly Sections 19.(2)(b) and 19.(3) of the Special Waste Regulation) (see steps l to o).

(k) If the concentration of PCB in oil in step (i) is greater than 50 ppm, the transformer unit must be decontaminated again by starting at step (a). At this point it is possible to switch to the alternative decontamination method described in (a)(i).

Final Steps

(l) Before a transformer component is removed from the facility, the owner of the transformer must make a written request to the manager by providing details of how the decontaminated transformer components or the residue is to be managed and including the following information in a tabular form:

(i) Name of the transformer manufacturer;

(ii) Size (name plate oil volume) and serial number of the transformer;

iii) Initial PCB concentration in the oil (prior to decontamination);

(iv) If method (a)(i) was used:

a) concentration of PCB in the porous material after decontamination, in mg/kg, and
  b) concentration of PCB on the impervious surfaces after decontamination, in µg/100 cm²; and

(v) If method (a)(ii) was followed:

a) PCB concentration(s) in the oil after each 60 day period in step (a)(ii)
  b) PCB concentration(s) in the oil after each 30 days storage period in step (i)

(m) All oil drained from the transformer must be recovered and managed as a waste oil hazardous waste or PCB waste hazardous waste, depending on whether the concentration of PCB in the oil is equal to and less than 50 mg/kg or greater, respectively.

(n) The decontaminated transformer casing, with or without the porous material, must be recycled at a metal recovery facility or managed otherwise by a method approved under the Act by a manager.

(o) Porous material removed from a decontaminated transformer may be landfilled in accordance with the Act or managed otherwise by a method approved under the Act by a manager.

2.5 Transformers with PCB > 10,000 ppm (see note 2)

Each transformer must be processed as follows:

(a) Carefully drain the PCB containing liquid from the transformer and store the liquid for management as a PCB hazardous waste.

(b) Disassemble the transformer into impermeable (metal) materials and porous (wood and paper) material components.

(c) Manage the porous material as a PCB hazardous waste.

(d) Decontaminate the impermeable material by solvent cleaning or some other method until the surface contamination, measured by the wipe test (see note 5), is reduced to less than or equal to 10 µg/100 cm².

(e) Submit the results of testing for PCB concentration from step (d) and the original concentration of PCB in the liquid contained in the transformer to a manager along with the name of the transformer manufacturer, transformer size and serial number. An approval of the manager must be obtained prior to removing PCB liquid or the decontaminated impermeable material from the decontamination facility.

(f) Store the decontaminated impermeable components according to the Hazardous Waste Regulation until approval of the manager for a suitable disposal option is received.

Notes:

  1. The director may revise this protocol in the future and therefore the users must ensure that only the version of the protocol which is current at the time is used.
  2. When more than five transformers are being decontaminated, a representative sample of each size and type of transformers may be taken and analyzed for PCBs. In this case the sampling plan must receive prior approval from a manager.
  3. A quality assurance/quality control program must be used which includes appropriate analysis of duplicate samples.

    a) All testing of transformer oil must follow the method "Polychlorinated Biphenyl's (PCBs) in Petroleum Products" described in the British Columbia laboratory Manual, 2003 Edition.

    b) Wipe test sampling methodology must be as described in Appendix B of the PCB Transformer Decontamination Standards and Protocols, prepared by Procter and Redfern Limited , CCME EPC-HW, July 1995.

This procedure replaces:

  • None

Staff, organizations directly affected:

  • Environmental Protection Division
  • Regional Operations Branch

Policy cross-references:

  • Hazardous Waste Regulation

Other cross-references:

  • PCB Transformer Decontamination Standards and Protocols (CCME EPC-HW), July 1995

Flow Chart for Transformers with PCB > 200-10,000 PPM

Flow chart for transformers with PCB > 200-10,000 PPM


UPDATED: JANUARY 2005