METI’s Efforts for the Promotion of Treating Equipment Containing Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCB)
Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) is an artificially-manufactured organochlorine compound and was used as insulating oil mainly for electric equipment until the early 1970s due to its excellent insulating qualities. However, the occurrence of the Kanemi Oil Poisoning Case, a mass poisoning caused by PCB in 1968, revealed that the compound could harm human health and cause adverse impact on living environments. This led to the prohibition of any domestic production or imports of PCB and the establishment of the Law concerning Special Measures for Promotion of Proper Treatment of PCB Wastes (PCB Special Measures Law) in Japan. Under the provisions of the Law, the Japanese government promoted the ensured appropriate treatment of waste materials containing PCB (PCB wastes).
In particular, high concentration PCB wastes have been treated in five regional PCB waste treatment facilities run by Japan Environmental Storage & Safety Corporation (JESCO) with the consent of and in cooperation with local stakeholders. Time limits have been determined concerning completion of treatment efforts of high concentration PCB wastes, and at the end of FY2018 JESCO’s earliest time limits for treating transformers and capacitors in its Kitakyushu service area will expire, among other treatment efforts. In order to ensure the treatment completion before these planned time limits lapse, the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) established the Study Committee concerning Appropriate Treatment of PCB Wastes. The committee held a series of meetings and discussed issues concerning the ensured abolition of the use of electric equipment containing high concentration PCB and the promotion of treating high concentration PCB wastes, and finally, on February 8, 2016, the committee compiled the discussion results into a report titled, “Additional Measures for Achieving the PCB Waste Treatment within the Time Frame Expecting the Ensured Completion of the Treatment. ” In response to the discussion results, PCB Special Measures Law was revised, and the revised Law came into force on August 1, 2016.
Because approved waste treatment facilities are able to treat low concentration PCB wastes, through increasing the number of such treatment businesses, the Japanese government has been striving to advance efforts for the enhancement of treatment systems, for expanding diversity in treatment methods, and for reduction of treatment cost. In addition, in March 2015, Japan also formulated and publicized the standard procedure for the Processes of energized natural circulation washing method, showing a new treatment method for cleaning in-use equipment containing small amounts of PCB.
Information on high concentration PCB wastes (links to the related information)
- Details of the treatment methods of high concentration PCB wastes (JESCO website) (in Japanese)
- Information on the efforts for addressing electric equipment containing PCB (Japan Electrical Manufacturers’ Association website) (in Japanese)
- Detailed processes of inspection, determination, treatment, and management of PCB-containing blighting equipment (Japan Lighting Manufacturers Association website) (in Japanese)
Information on low concentration PCB wastes (links to the related information)
- List of the approved businesses running facilities for rendering poisonous wastes harmless (MOE website)(in Japanese)
Related laws and regulations
- PCB Special Measures Law (MOE website) (in Japanese)
- Electricity Business Act
- Waste Management and Public Cleansing Act (in Japanese)
- Act on the Evaluation of Chemical Substances and Regulation of Their Manufacture, etc.
- Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants
Division in Charge
Environmental Protection Guidance Office, Industrial Science and Technology Policy and Environment Bureau, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
Address: 1-3-1 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo
Telephone: 03-3501-4665 (extension: 3551)