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Summaries of EU Legislation

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Disposal of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polychlorinated terphenyls (PCTs)

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Disposal of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polychlorinated terphenyls (PCTs)

SUMMARY OF:

Directive 96/59/EC — disposal of polychlorinated biphenyls and polychlorinated terphenyls (PCB/PCTs)

SUMMARY

WHAT DOES THE DIRECTIVE DO?

  • It harmonises law on the disposal of polychlorinated biphenyls and polychlorinated terphenyls (PCBs/PCTs)* and the decontamination or disposal of equipment containing them.

KEY POINTS

EU countries must ensure that:

  • used PCBs and PCTs and equipment containing them are disposed of as soon as possible;
  • inventories are compiled of equipment containing more than 5 litres of PCBs and PCTs, and summaries of these are sent to the European Commission within 3 years of the legislation’s adoption;
  • companies disposing of PCBs and PCTs are licensed and keep registers of the quantity, origin and nature of the used PCBs and PCTs they receive;
  • safety precautions are in place to prevent any risk of fire to PCBs and PCTs or equipment containing them;
  • PCBs or PCTs are not burned on ships;
  • transformers are not topped up with PCBs or PCTs;
  • transformers containing more than 0.05 % by weight of PCBs or PCTs are decontaminated according to the conditions specified in the legislation;
  • equipment containing more than 5 litres of PCBs and PCTs is decontaminated and/or disposed of at the latest by the end of 2010, except for transformers containing between 0.05 % and 0.005 % by weight of PCBs or PCTs, which can be disposed of at the end of their useful lives.

The inventories contain:

  • name and address of the equipment holder;
  • location and description of the equipment;
  • quantity of PCBs or PCTs the equipment contains;
  • dates and types of treatment or replacement carried out or envisaged;
  • date of the declaration.

The Commission:

  • fixes the reference methods to measure the PCB and PCT content of contaminated materials;
  • sets technical standards for other ways of disposing of PCBs and PCTs;
  • makes a list available of the production names of electrical equipment, namely capacitors, resistors and inductance coils, containing PCBs and PCTs;
  • determines, if necessary, less hazardous substitutes for PCBs and PCTs.

FROM WHEN DOES THE DIRECTIVE APPLY?

It has applied since 16 September 1996. EU countries had to incorporate it into national law by 16 March 1998.

KEY TERM

* Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polychlorinated terphenyls (PCTs): a group of man-made compounds that were widely used in the past, mainly in electrical equipment. They were banned at the end of the 1970s in many countries because of environmental concerns.

ACT

Council Directive 96/59/EC of 16 September 1996 on the disposal of polychlorinated biphenyls and polychlorinated terphenyls (PCB/PCT) (OJ L 243, 24.9.1996, pp. 31–35)

Subsequent amendments to Directive 96/59/EC have been incorporated into the basic text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.

RELATED ACTS

Commission Decision 2001/68/EC of 16 January 2001 establishing two reference methods of measurement for PCBs pursuant to Article 10(a) of Council Directive 96/59/EC on the disposal of polychlorinated biphenyls and polychlorinated terphenyls (PCBs/PCTs) (notified under document number C(2001) 107 (OJ L 23, 25.1.2001, p. 31)

last update 24.05.2016

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