On July 12, 2006, a spill of PCBs occurred when employees of Wheeler removed oily cable from a conduit near a power plant building at INL. A sample taken of the cable oil revealed a PCB concentration of 226,000 parts per million, well above EPA's level of concern for protecting public health.
Contamination occurred when workmen later pulled the oily cable from the conduit and then carried or dragged it through several areas inside the building before placing it on the ground outside. At the close of business, the workers then drove home wearing their contaminated boots and clothing.
During the course of the next several weeks, BEA conducted sampling and remediation of the PCB-impacted areas. In addition, the workers’ residences and vehicles were also sampled and cleaned up.
PCBs have been demonstrated to cause a variety of adverse health effects and have been shown to cause cancer in animals. PCBs have also been shown to cause a number of serious non-cancer health effects in animals, including effects on the human immune, reproductive, endocrine and central nervous systems.
As a result of this incident, Battelle Energy Alliance and Wheeler Electric have improved their PCB handling procedures for future operations.