Japan to Strengthen PCB Waste Management

On 10 June 2016, Japan’s Ministry of the Environment (MOE) published draft amendments to the cabinet order and ministerial ordinance associated with Act on Special Measures concerning Promotion of Proper Treatment of PCB Wastes (Act No. 65 of 2001). Public consultation will end on 11 July 2016. PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) were once widely used as dielectric and coolant fluids in power transformers and other electrical apparatus. Their manufacture has been prohibited in Japan since 1972, when health effects and environmental toxicity were elucidated via epidemiological evidence showing a direct causal relationship between increased incidence of a condition named “Yush? disease” and PCB-contaminated rice bran oil. To this day it remains one of MOE’s toughest tasks to treat the leftover and newly generated PCB wastes from enterprises using PCBs at high concentrations. Through the continued effort of MOE and the support of local government, Japan has established 5 PCB wastes treatment facilities respectively in Tokyo, Osaka, Hokkaido, Toyota and Kitakyushu. Now MOE thinks the process should be accelerated and plans to set a goal of finishing treating all PCB waste by the end of 2018 and no later than the end of 2023. The draft amendment proposes to increase the obligations of enterprises associated with PCB wastes, as well as the penalties associated with not adequately disposing of wastes within the specified period. With reinforced administrative power, government departments will be authorized to enter related enterprises for site inspections and issue PCB disposal requirements based on site inspection. Further information is available at: MOE Notice (in Japanese)

Chemlinked, 8 June 2016 ;http://chemlinked.com/en/news ;