[AMRadio] PCB Inspection Warning!

Donald Chester k4kyv at hotmail.com
Thu Jul 8 13:49:59 EDT 2004

I received a telephone call this morning from a lady who told me she was 
doing a followup to a PCB inspection at the radio station that gave me the 
Gates BC1-T broadcast transmitter about a year ago. She explained that the 
station personnel gave her my name as the person receiving the transmitter, 
and that she is required to follow up to keep track of where the PCB had 

She asked me a few questions about the transmitter, and I told her what I 
was doing with it, and assured her that I had worked with this type of 
equipment for many years and that I was aware of the PCB situation and the 
requirement that they be disposed of properly. I also explained that there 
were many items on the transmitter, such as tar-filled transformers and 
electrolytic capacitors that had been mislabeled as "PCB devices". I 
explained that the only actual PCB devices in the transmitter were the HV 
power supply capacitors and that none of the transformers contained PCB. She 
seemed satisfied at my response.

She asked me if the parts that were mislabelled "PCB" had been tested or 
otherwise how did I know they did not contain PCB. She seemed satisfied with 
my response that I was familiar with the nameplates and part #'s on the 
components (such as the UTC CG series filter choke).

She told me she was going to write in ther report that the only PCB 
components involved in this case are "small capacitors" which, evidently, 
are exempt from stringent regulations covering "large capacitors".

The lady was very cordial and pleasant to talk with. Hopefully this will be 
the last I hear on the topic. I have LOADS of PCB capacitors in my 40+ years 
parts collection.

I thought it might be wise to pass this along since many members of this 
board have acquired transmitters from broadcast stations and may eventually 
be contacted in a similar inquiry. Evidently all commercial users of 
anything with PCB must account for every item they dispose of. To avoid 
further hassle, it might be a good idea to have your story already prepared 
and anything of significance documented in such a way as to satisfy any 
inquisitors. This is especially true if anything in the transmitter has one 
of the yellow "PCB" decals attached. This means that it is on record 
somewhere that the unit contains PCB. I would suggest assuring anyone making 
an inquiry that all capacitors are in the "small" category, still in use it 
the transmitter, and that you know how to properly dispose of them, or at 
least you know not to throw them in the dump.

In order not to cause the source of retired transmitters to dry up, we need 
to bend over backwards to satisfy the PCB inquisitors. All it would take 
would be one or two cases of a station management being hassled about giving 
away PCP-laden stuff that was later improperly disposed of, for the story to 
circulate throughout the industry, resulting in a standard corporate policy 
not to release abandoned transmitters to private individuals. The person who 
talks to you may not be as cordial as the lady who called me.

I recall a ham out west telling me several years ago that a station manager 
refused to let him have a 1 kw transmitter with a quad of 833A's because he 
was so paranoid about liability over PCB. When the ham offered to remove all 
the likely PCB components and leave them on-site for proper disposal, the 
manager still refused, apparently believing that the mere presence of one 
PCB capacitor somehow contaminated everything inside the box, and that he 
might eventually be held liable even for releasing the 833A's! So the 
station paid top dollar to some hazardous waste disposal company to move an 
entire 1000+ lb. tranasmitter to a special site for "proper" disposal.


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