On August 29, 2023, EPA finalized regulatory changes that address several key issues related to implementing the PCB Cleanup and Disposal Program under the Toxic Substances Control Act. EPA expanded the available options for extraction and determinative methods used to characterize and verify the cleanup of PCB waste under the federal TSCA regulations (also referred to as the PCB regulations). These changes are expected to greatly reduce the amount of solvent used in PCB extraction processes, which will conserve resources and reduce waste.

This final rule also adds more flexible provisions to facilitate cleanup and protective disposal of waste generated by spills that occur during emergency situations (e.g., hurricanes or floods). This flexibility allows the Agency to collaborate with responsible parties to quickly respond to releases of PCBs caused by natural disasters and other emergency situations.

Additionally, EPA finalized amendments to the performance-based disposal option for PCB remediation waste by adding explicit cleanup provisions, including the requirement to notify EPA and follow specific sampling protocols, which would provide additional assurance that sites are properly remediated and enable compliance and enforcement. EPA also finalized the removal of the provision allowing PCB bulk product waste to be disposed of as roadbed material to improve protectiveness of human health and the environment.

Finally, this final rule harmonizes the general disposal requirements for PCB remediation waste and makes other amendments to improve the implementation of the regulations, clarify ambiguity, and correct technical errors. 

Rule History

PCBs are a group of man-made organic chemicals that were used in hundreds of industrial and commercial applications, such as electrical, heat transfer and hydraulic equipment as well as plasticizers in paints, plastics, and rubber products. Although the fabrication of PCBs was banned in 1979, they can still be found in the soil, sediment, air, and water today. This is because PCBs are highly persistent in the environment and may still be from releases years ago. Additionally, equipment and products in use today may still contain PCBs and make their way into the environment from improper disposal of industrial wastes, leaks from old electrical transformers, or burning of some wastes in incinerators.

PCBs are toxic chemicals that pose a risk to communities if improperly managed or controlled. Under TSCA, EPA works to ensure the safe cleanup and disposal of PCBs. Several developments have occurred in recent years to warrant an update to portions of the PCB regulations, including the emergence of new science, advancement of analytical methods and technology, new information, and repeated requests from the regulated community to address their concerns and improve the clarity of the regulations. On October 22, 2021, EPA proposed several revisions to the PCB regulations to better reflect current science and other available new information.

Benefits of the Rule

Generally, the rule modernizes the PCB regulations, making it easier and more affordable to clean up contaminated sites, while continuing to ensure that the requirements remain protective.

  • By streamlining all PCB cleanups, disadvantaged communities are expected to benefit from quicker, more cost-effective, compliant cleanups.
  • Specifically, adding explicit cleanup provisions under § 761.61(b), will provide assurance that sites are properly remediated and enable compliance assistance/enforcement.
  • Flexibility for emergency situations will allow the Agency to work collaboratively with industry to quickly respond to catastrophic disasters, which often disproportionately impact communities facing EJ issues.

Climate Change Benefits of the Rule

Allowing alternate extraction methods will greatly reduce the amount of solvent used, which supports EPA’s Greener Cleanups initiative and reduces the amount of waste generated from PCB cleanups.

Additional flexibility for emergency situations will become increasingly important as natural disasters become more frequent and severe. The proposed regulatory changes will allow the Agency to expedite basic clean ups and customize requirements for complex situations.

Spencer-SHE has been providing Safety, Health, and Environmental Compliance Guidance since 1980. Our contaminated site management experts can help companies evaluate their PCB-related approach and understand the cleanup and disposal options.

Contact us here to help you to develop and maintain a safe and healthy workforce.


Alternate PCB Extraction Methods and Amendments to PCB Cleanup and Disposal Regulations | US EPA