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Thread: Pole transformer exploded - danger from burning transformer oil w/ pcbs?

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    DIY Senior Member Probedude's Avatar
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    Default Pole transformer exploded - danger from burning transformer oil w/ pcbs?

    Yesterday a pole transformer blew up across the street in my neighborhood.

    Afterwards the transformer smoked then burned for maybe an hour and a half. Neighborhood was quite smelly from oil burning.

    Hazmat came out that night, then Edison came and changed the transformer.
    Today I see another Hazmat team showed up along with a special dumpster - I guess they've still got stuff to clean.

    Anyone know what if any concern my family should have for smelling this burning transformer yesterday if the oil had PCB's in it? Neighborhood was built ~1964 and given the amount of detail they've given with the hazmat team I'm guessing PCB's were in the oil.

    Dave

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    I don't think there is much of a "pcb" concern. Those pole transformers rarely had any pcbs in them, mostly mineral oil, etc.

    Even with the burning oil, you would have to be exposed to the oil, smoke, etc. for long periods of time and in high concentrations to have any health problems.

    Hazmat came out because of the oil.
    rgsgww

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    Licensed Electrical Contractor Speedy Petey's Avatar
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    You should probably move.
    Answers based on the 2008 & 2011 NEC. If you're on the '14 already I feel sorry for you.

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    Consultant cwhyu2's Avatar
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    pole transfomers have had no PCBs in long long time.

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    Homeowner Thatguy's Avatar
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    Even if you and others have been put at risk for future illness, you might get the
    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q...ied%22&aq=f&oq=
    answer, if you pursue this issue long enough.

    And,
    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q...ncy%22&aq=f&oq=
    Last edited by Thatguy; 12-25-2008 at 08:19 AM.

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    Licensed Electrical Contractor Speedy Petey's Avatar
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    So what are you saying Thatguy? That even though it has been said that no PCBs were present there is still the possibility of future disease because of this one exposure to smoke????

    Even if there were pcbs the level of exposure and exposure time were minuscule.
    Answers based on the 2008 & 2011 NEC. If you're on the '14 already I feel sorry for you.

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    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Probedude View Post
    Anyone know what if any concern my family should have Dave

    Below is the result of something that went wrong with electrical transmission



    The power station, which rendered the town uninhabitable for centuries, looms on the horizon, two-and-half kilometres away. Photos by Phil Coomes


    yes I would have concerns. You can see the full details and pictures of the city above by clicking here
    Last edited by jwelectric; 12-25-2008 at 08:52 AM.

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    Homeowner Thatguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
    So what are you saying Thatguy? That even though it has been said that no PCBs were present there is still the possibility of future disease because of this one exposure to smoke????

    Even if there were pcbs the level of exposure and exposure time were minuscule.
    PCBs were "good" until we found that they were bad. This new xformer stuff will be good until we find it is bad.
    When there is tissue cell damage on a molecular level it may take 20 years to show up.
    I'm still waiting for the delayed effects of extensive cell phone usage to make themselves known (I don't have one).

    I'm saying that, whatever the truth is, even if someone [or some computer model] knows what the truth is, the homeowner won't be told. Neither will the workers who are dealing with this stuff, daily.

    By the way, if you ever looked at side effects for medicine: by the time you get down to the ". . .1% of the users may have. . ." level, the (mostly serious) side effects occupy a whole paragraph.
    The less people have the side effect, the more side effects there are to have.

    And, speaking of agencies as "protecting the public good", does the Nuclear Regulatory Commission fit this guy's theory (theory in this sense meaning "a body of science")?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capture_(politics)
    How 'bout the FDA? The SEC?
    Last edited by Thatguy; 12-25-2008 at 09:03 AM.

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    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    Default Bulletin: World not safe

    Quote Originally Posted by Thatguy View Post
    PCBs were "good" until we found that they were bad. This new xformer stuff will be good until we find it is bad.
    When there is cell damage on a molecular level it may take 20 years to show up.
    I'm still waiting for the delayed effects of extensive cell phone usage (I don't have one).

    I'm saying that, whatever the truth is, even if someone [or some computer model] knows what the truth is, the homeowner won't be told. Neither will the workers who are dealing with this stuff, daily.

    By the way, if you ever looked at side effects for medicine: by the time you get down to the ". . .1% of the users may have. . ." level, the (mostly serious) side effects occupy a whole paragraph.
    The less people have the side effect, the more side effects there are to have.

    Scientists have determined that the world is not a safe place to live. Religious leaders say "Get over it". Price of caves and treehouse to rise. Film @ 11:00.

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    Homeowner Thatguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimbo View Post
    Scientists have determined that the world is not a safe place to live.
    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q...lorate&aq=f&oq=

    Personally, I'm still waiting for the Seventh Seal to open. . .maybe next year. . .

  11. #11
    Licensed Electrical Contractor Speedy Petey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thatguy View Post
    When there is tissue cell damage on a molecular level it may take 20 years to show up.
    From one instance of smelling the smoke from a transformer that burned on a pole outside your house?????

    I can see a fireman who is overcome by smoke and is rendered unconscious more than a few times in his career. Or someone who works with the nasty stuff for 20 years.
    One instance of smelling smoke is absolutely a Chicken Little mentality. Like I said earlier, they should move far away from that home and don't tell the people buying it what happened.

    You ever smell the odor left behind when an old ballast burns up? I have. Many times. I've also unknowingly rubbed up against asbestos pipe insulation a few times.
    If I die @ 85 from PCB absorption or asbestosis. I'll be sure to let you know you were right.
    Answers based on the 2008 & 2011 NEC. If you're on the '14 already I feel sorry for you.

  12. #12
    DIY Senior Member Probedude's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies. Two of my neighbors works for Edison (and there are about 4 others that live in our development (odd there's that many but Edison does have a office/plant about 1/2 a mile down the road from me). I'll have to ask one of them if they know that the transformer had PCBs in it.

    I'm not one that subscribes to silly fears, I'm the rational one in our family. The wife on the other hand - she's easily gets concerned over stuff that shouldn't be worried about. I'm just building up info for when she's told by someone else that there were BURNING pcb's in the air that day (the smell was pretty strong).

    As far as "pole transformers have not had PCB's for a long time ", as I mentioned this tract was built in 1964 and I'm guessing the transformers are original. I know that the house I grew up in, that house was built in 1965, we moved into it in 1969 and I know that it never had the transformer replaced.

    Found some info in this doc.
    http://www.epa.gov/region8/toxics/pcb/pcbidmgmt.pdf

    "Transformers, capacitors, fluorescent light ballasts, and cable
    manufactured in the United States after July 2, 1979 should not contain PCBs."

    That's not that long ago.

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    Homeowner Thatguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
    From one instance of smelling the smoke from a transformer that burned on a pole outside your house?????

    I can see a fireman who is overcome by smoke and is rendered unconscious more than a few times in his career. Or someone who works with the nasty stuff for 20 years.
    One instance of smelling smoke is absolutely a Chicken Little mentality. Like I said earlier, they should move far away from that home and don't tell the people buying it what happened.

    You ever smell the odor left behind when an old ballast burns up? I have. Many times. I've also unknowingly rubbed up against asbestos pipe insulation a few times.
    If I die @ 85 from PCB absorption or asbestosis. I'll be sure to let you know you were right.
    The built-in maximum lifespan for humans is 85, so the cause of death at that point might be a matter of opinion.

    I found an interesting thing, looking up mortality rates in the U.S. for a male smoker who worked with me. The text in parens is my opinion.
    Nobody dies at 16 from smoking (they haven't done it long enough) and nobody dies at 90 from smoking (because they would have already died from it if they are going to). The maximum likelihood of death from smoking for males was at age ~45.

    With us being in the last stages of civilization (apathy or dependence) and rocket fuel in mother's milk and global warming, we may already killed ourselves and we don't know it yet.

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    Consultant cwhyu2's Avatar
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    Been exposed to all of the above,worked at the fernald urainum plant
    for 8hrs and got a letter 6months later that they wanted to do complete
    physical exam of and every thing I've been exposed to through out my
    entire career in the building trades,this 30 yrs of stuff and found that
    I am in good health for my age.50 plusyrs.

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    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thatguy View Post
    ) and rocket fuel in mother's milk and global warming, we may already killed ourselves and we don't know it yet.
    Yeah, that global warming is gonna do it! How many places are experiencing record COLD this month. Did anyplace experience record WARM temps this summer?

    Forget the rocket fuel. I AM worried about the melamine that China is sneaking in to everything they send us! Those bastards will get us, if the rag heads don't get us first!

    Merry Bleeping Christmas!

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