PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, are chlorinated chemical compounds. In the 1930s, PCBs began to be used in industrial processes for their electrical insulation, lubrication and non-flammable qualities (e.g. they were used in electrical transformers and capacitors, in turbines and pumps and as components of oils, solders, adhesives, paint and self-copying paper).
It was then discovered that PCBs decomposed into persistent, highly-toxic pollutants with the result that these substances are no longer produced or used in Europe.
In order to protect human health and the environment from Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP), which include PCBs, Luxembourg has committed itself to taking the necessary measures to reduce or eliminate the release of POPs into the environment.
The Environment Agency (Administration de l'environnement) is responsible for matters relating to holding and/or disposing of PCBs.
Any natural or legal person holding PCBs and/or equipment containing PCBs or a mixture containing PCBs in a total of more than 0.005 % by weight are obliged to have said equipment decontaminated.
New equipment no longer contains these products.
Ban on PCBs
The use of PCBs as well as the use of equipment (with a liquid volume of more than 5 litres) containing PCBs is now banned.
Declaration of existing equipment
Such equipment had to be declared to the Environment Agency by their holders before 31 December 1999.
For equipment that has not yet been declared, the holder thereof must provide the Environment Agency with the following information:
- the location and description of the equipment;
- the quantity of PCBs contained in the equipment;
- the dates and types of treatment or replacement carried out or envisaged.
Equipment subject to inventory must be labelled and all the information listed above must be included thereon.
Decontamination and disposal
Any person holding PCBs or equipment containing PCBs must call on an approved service provider to decontaminate or dispose of it.
The Environment Portal provides a list of companies authorised to transport and dispose of PCBs.
One of the following codes must be inserted in the 'CED2' field:
- 130101 (hydraulic oils);
- 130301 (insulating or heat transmission oils);
- 160109 (vehicle components);
- 170902 (construction waste);
- 160209 (transformers and capacitors);
- 160210 (other electrical equipment).
In the meantime, all precautionary measures must be taken to avoid any risk of fire.
Decontaminated equipment and the premises where such equipment is located must be labelled as follows: