BPA Completes Removal of PCB Capacitors

Staff | September 28, 2010

Vancouver, WA— The Bonneville Power Administration recently completed a multiyear effort to remove and replace more than 100,000 capacitors that contained high levels of Polychlorinated BiPhenyls — more commonly known as PCBs.

"The completion of this work bolsters BPA's already strong environmental record," said Steve Wright, BPA administrator. "Accomplishments like these demonstrate our commitment to public service and protecting the environment."

In total, BPA replaced more than 101,000 PCB capacitors at 69 of its substations, which cost more than $102 million. Those costs were spread over a 17-year period between 1991, when BPA began replacing the capacitors, and this summer, when the work was completed.

Completion of this work significantly reduces BPA's financial risk posed by PCBs. Removal of PCB capacitors eliminated the largest source of PCBs from the transmission system and the potential for spills and the need to undertake costly cleanups.

In addition, removal of PCBs capacitors benefited the environment. PCBs are a bio-accumulative toxin. When released, PCBs accumulate in the environment and do not degrade. When ingested by people or animals, PCBs are stored in the fatty tissue and are suspected carcinogens known to possibly cause cancer and other health problems.