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PCB contaminated CEB transformer oil disposed

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The Ministry of Environment, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) and INSEE Ecocycle in partnership led to the disposal of 191 tons of Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) contaminated transformer oil and transformers extracted from outdated Ceylon Electricity Board transformers and welding facilities islandwide, diverting potential health and environmental risks within Sri Lanka.

PCBs were commercially produced worldwide on a large scale between the 1930s and 1980s and have been used in many industrial applications including electricity transformers and capacitors.

“Sri Lanka is part of the global movement to eliminate the use of PCBs in equipment by 2025 so this is a very important milestone for us as a nation.

The Ministry of Environment signed an agreement with UNIDO for environmentally sound management of PCBs in utility and welding sectors and INSEE was selected to carryout disposal process following an international bidding process conducted through UNIDO”, said B.K. Prabath Chandrakeerthi Secretary, Ministry of Environment.

“We are very proud to have been a part of this project. INSEE Ecocycle has worked closely with the Ministry of Environment, lending our expertise to a wide array of projects in the past, this is by far the most significant,” stated INSEE Ecocycle’s General Manager Sujith Gunawardhana.

UNIDO’s Project Manager, Dr. Carmela Centanoalso stressed the importance of this project, “This not only mitigates potential health and environmental risks within Sri Lanka but also showcases the transformative power of collaborative efforts with the private sector in addressing complex environmental challenges.”

When executing the project, INSEE Ecocycle took extensive measures to prioritize the safety of both individuals and the environment. Ahead of project execution, the INSEE Ecocycle team underwent rigorous training covering waste management, risk assessment, and the correct use of personal protective equipment.

INSEE Ecocycle also raised awareness about proper waste management practices among CEB workers handling PCBs on the ground.

INSEE, as the only organization in Sri Lanka equipped for co-processing, led the way in handling a major part of the PCB-contaminated materials consignment through co-processing, which is an environmentally safe waste management method in line with Central Environmental Authority (CEA) regulation.

“Through collaborative efforts, we’ve responsibly disposed of a major portion of PCB-contaminated transformer oil and transformers, addressing environmental hazards and safeguarding both our ecosystem and the people involved,” said Krishantha Hemarathna, CEB’s Project Manager.

The success of the project was a result of close collaboration between a broad group of stakeholders includingthe Central Environmental Authority, the Ceylon Electricity Board and People to People volunteers led by the Ministry of Environment.

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