Oil, PCB Spill Contained

Monday, March 12, 2018 @ 03:03 PM gHale

An oil spill on a street in Rossville, GA, contained a chemical linked to health risks, including cancer, officials said.

Noticing a sheen in a drainage ditch, a Rossville resident called the police at 7 p.m. Sunday.

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An officer traced the spill back to the abandoned Coats America building, located at 150 Maple Street, said Walker County spokesman Joe Legge. Rossville Police Chief Sid Adams said the drainage ditch was across the street from the source of the spill.

Police suspect copper thieves caused the spill. They found a transformer tipped over inside the building. A 50-gallon drum of oil was inside the transformer, and the oil contained Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB).

Manufacturers once used PCB as a coolant and lubricant in transformers. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the chemical is linked to several health risks.

A 1987 study of two plants that produced electrical capacitors found a “significant increase” in cancer among its workers, primarily in the liver, gallbladder and biliary tract. Three other studies of workers at plants with PCB found links to skin cancer, and two studies found links to brain cancer.

In Rossville, Walker County Emergency Services, the Chattanooga Fire Department’s Hazardous Materials Emergency Incident Responses team and an SRT Safety team responded to the spill. Workers moved the oil back to a contained spot inside the building by 11:30 p.m., Legge said.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division is also working the case.  County officials are scheduled to hold a conference call with an EPD representative this morning.

Legge said investigators believe the culprit was stealing copper out of the building because they found a napsack with copper at the scene. They believe at least one person was on a string of thefts when they entered the Coats America building.

Coats America used to make textiles in Rossville, but the county has owned the 200,000-square foot building since 2007.

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