Settlement reached in PCB disposal violations case

February 17, 2015

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency just announced that it has reached a settlement with the Imperial Irrigation District valued at $920,000. The action resolves extensive polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) disposal at electricity substations. The Imperial Irrigation District is the sixth largest utility in California and supplies electricity to more than 145,000 customers in the Imperial Valley and Riverside County.

PCBs are man-made organic chemicals used in electric and industrial equipment, paint, plastics and transformer cooling oil. More the 1.5 billion pounds of of PCBs were produced in the United States before a 1978 production ban imposed by the EPA.

Concerns about human health, such as nervous, immune and endocrine system damage, and the long life of the chemicals in the environment, led to Congress enacting the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in 1976. Imperial Irrigation District was accused of violating this act, during operations which occurred between 1957 and 2005.

The District is required to spend $543,000 to replace equipment containing PCBs and perform an audit of inactive electricity substations as part of the settlement agreement. Imperial Irrigation will hire an independent auditor who will examine all PCB-containing equipment as well as conducting soil assessment at the properties. Any soil contamination that violates the TSCA must be cleaned up, and PCB-laced apparatuses removed. The company will also pay a $397,000 civil penalty. 

Jared Blumenfeld, EPA's Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest said, "Our goal is to protect public health and the environment from the risks of PCBs. Today's settlement means Imperial Irrigation District will be taking steps to counter the impacts of its legacy PCB contamination in several local communities."

If you would like to conduct soil or groundwater assessment at your property contact environmental consultants, who can help ensure you are protecting the environment and your company from unnecessary litigation.