PCBs are "polychlorinated biphenyls." They are a waste byproduct of industrial and heavy construction equipment. So, you might be wondering how they could possibly be connected to electrical transformers. The answer may surprise you, as will the method in which PCBs under these circumstances are handled. It is also worth noting that while most older transformers are just easier and less costly to repair rather than replace, any transformers that have high amounts of PCBs in them cannot be repaired as the EPA has recalled them. Here is more information on all of the above so that you can judge for yourself when it is time to replace these old transformers rather than repair them.
The PCBs in the Transformers
PCBs in transformers are in liquid form. They were used to help lubricate and moisten internal components so that electrical current could freely pass around and through the transformers. They were supposedly the solution to battery acids and/or lead components, but the problem was, and is, that PCBs are equally (if not more so!) harmful to the environment as lead and battery acids. When old transformers leak, PCBs fall onto the ground, on grass, and into every living creature that wriggles by that way. When enough PCBs leak from the transformers, the PCBs make it into the groundwater and begin poisoning humans. The whole point of banning transformers that use PCBs was to make the world a healthier place.
Poorly Destroyed Transformers with PCB
Initially, when PCBs were first banned, and transformers were rounded up for destruction, they were poorly destroyed or ill-kept in storage spaces that still allowed the leaks to continue. It has taken years to clean that up, and in the meantime, many companies have begun replacing old transformers with new rather than repair old transformers. Thankfully, companies that repair and replace transformers have now also increased their capabilities to test transformers for leaks and destroy them effectively without harming the environment. When you encounter one of these really old transformers in your plant, neighborhood, or work zone, and it looks like it could do with some repair work, stop. Replace it instead.
Doing Your Part to Keep Things Green
As previously mentioned, you can always repair a transformer to get it working again. However, fixing an old one may not be in the best interests of the company, your neighbors, and/or the environment. It is also not good for the company wallet if the government agencies find out that you repaired an old transformer rather than junk it when it contained PCBs.
For more information, contact your local transformer repair service.