Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) comprise 209 closely-related synthetic chemicals. They were created for use as insulators, coolants and lubricants for electrical equipment, transformers and capacitors. PCBs were used for these industrial purposes because they withstand high temperatures without burning (www.epa.gov/opptintr/pcb).
PCBs were used on-site during World War II as an insulating saturant in the manufacture of electrical cables produced for the U.S. Navy. The cables were saturated with PCBs to impart heat and flame resistance; to avoid fire damage; and to withstand heat generated from conducting high electrical currents.
PCB production in the United States ended in 1977 (www.epa.gov/opptintr/pcb). The Anaconda Wire and Cable Company plant in Hastings-on-Hudson ceased operation in 1975.
Atlantic Richfield Company (AR) will remediate any soils that have concentrations greater than 10 parts per million, in compliance with its Consent Orders with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), the Village of Hastings-On-Hudson, and the Hudson Riverkeeper Fund Inc. Over the vast majority of the site, soils containing greater than 10 ppm PCBs will be removed and replaced with clean fill. In the extreme northwest corner, contaminated soils will be removed to depths of 9 to 12 feet and replaced with clean fill. Remaining contaminated soil in the northwest corner (at depths of greater than 9 feet) will then be covered with an impermeable "Part 360" cap and contained with an underground slurry wall.
The primary route of human exposure is through the consumption of contaminated fish, dairy, or other food products. Other potential routes of exposure for humans include inhalation, skin contact or ingestion (www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/phs17.html). However, we do not expect any significant exposures to result from the cleanup of the Site. PCBs have low solubility in water and low volatility in air, making releases into the environment unlikely during remediation. In addition, AR will use proven dust control and other remedial technologies to ensure the safety of the community.
The risk of adverse health effects is generally related to very high levels of PCB exposure, such as those found in manufacturing facility workers with occupational levels of exposure. The U.S. EPA (www.toxnet.nlm.nih.gov) classifies PCBs as probable human carcinogens. In addition, at high levels of exposure, the U.S. ATSDR notes that some adults have experienced changes to the blood, liver, and thyroid. (www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/phs17.html)
Remediation at this Site will be carefully managed, under the supervision of NYSDEC, to minimize any potential exposure to PCBs for our workers and to ensure the safety of the community. In addition, Village consultants will review AR's work plans to make sure those plans are safe. We will take concrete and mateial steps to make sure that the remediation is accomplished safely and that no one is harmed. For more information on PCBs, we refer you to the websites listed in this paragraph.
NYSDEC's Record of Decision states that the remediation can be safely managed. AR agrees with that assessment.
Because many of the PCBs on site are in a rubbery, elastic matrix, those PCBs are unlikely to be converted to dust during remediation. Nonetheless, AR is applying proven engineering dust control techniques to prevent dust creation during remediation. These techniques include the use of water sprays, frequent cleaning of equipment and roadways, and enclosures to prevent wind transport (www.epa.gov/owm/mtb/dustctr.pdf). AR is conducting real-time air monitoring to assure that dust suppression techniques are effective. Our cleanup personnel have the authority to stop cleanup activities immediately if our air monitoring gives us any indication that we have generated unsafe levels of dust.
Further, because PCBs have a low solubility in water, we do not expect that the remediation will result in highly contaminated groundwater or stormwater. Nonetheless, we are collecting and treating any potentially contaminated water generated by the cleanup.
To learn more about PCBs, visit www.atsdr.cdc.gov/tfacts17.html.
More information can be found at our PCB Removal page.