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March 2 US: Oregon lumber mill cited for toxic chemical leaks and violations

From the EPA:

Sanders Wood Products Company in Liberal, Oregon was found to have a series of PCB leaks and other violations of federal PCB laws at its lumber mill, according to a settlement reached with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The company will pay over $108,000 in penalties.

“There are clear standards for how to manage toxic chemicals like PCBs so they don’t harm people or the environment,” said Scott Downey, Manager of the Pesticides and PCBs Unit in EPA’s Seattle office. “This dangerous family of chemicals accumulates in the body and can be extremely difficult and expensive to clean up.”

During an inspection in 2009, an EPA inspector identified leaks in three PCB-containing transformers. Federal law requires repair, containment or replacement of leaking transformers containing polychlorinated biphenyls, commonly known as PCBs. In addition, the transformers were not properly maintained and lacked necessary labels.

PCBs are known carcinogens and can harm the immune, reproductive, nervous and endocrine systems. Congress banned PCBs in 1979, but they may be present in products and materials produced before the ban including electrical transformers, capacitors, oil used in motors, oil-based paint, plastics and insulation.

As part of the settlement, the company confirmed it has removed the leaking transformers from the facility. The areas where the PCBs leaked have also been cleaned up. The company has also certified it is currently in compliance with all applicable requirements under the Toxic Substances Control Act at each of its facilities.

More information on PCBs can be found here.

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