Electric transformers are found at almost every larger commercial, institutional and industrial facility. Sometimes this equipment is owned by the facility owner and sometimes by the power company. For some facilities, it is not always clearly understood who owns and is responsible for transformers. The presence and risks associated with electric transformers are one of the conditions that are evaluated during a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment and in the determination of Recognized Environmental Conditions.

Oil Contaminated Waste Pile Discovered During Phase 1 Onsite Inspection

Oil Contaminated Waste Discovered During Onsite Inspection


Can Electric Transformers Leak Oil?

Yes, electric transformers can leak oil, but only if they actually contain oil.

How Can I Tell If Electric Transformer Contains Oil?

For newer transformers, the quantity of oil in the unit is usually found on the label. For older equipment, this information may not be on the label, or the label may have been removed or is illegible. In this case, a visual inspection of the equipment by a knowledgeable person can usually determine if it contains oil or not.     Not sure?   Send Caltha a photo and we may be able to determine this – send to info@calthacompany.com

What Are The Environmental Risks For Electric Transformers?

A risk for oil spills exists for any oil-filled transformer. Older transformers commonly contained PCB oils. Use of PCB oils has been phased out and newer equipment is often labeled “No PBC”; however older electric transformers could still contain PCBs which makes clean up more involved.

Some newer Electrical Transformers display a Non PCB Label

Non PCB Label On Electrical Transformer

Leaks can occur over long periods and accumulate slowly. The other risk is an emergency spill caused by a fire or the transformer being damaged by vehicles, etc. These risks are mitigated by ensuring equipment is included in pollution prevention plans and spill plans (such as SWPPP, SPCC Plan or other spill plans) and is regularly inspected and maintained.

Is Electric Transformer A REC?

Whether or not an individual transformer is a Recognized Environmental Condition will be determined by the Environmental Professional after considering risks and mitigating factors. It is possible that after balancing these factors, an electric transformer is considered a material risk for releases, and therefore is a Recognized Environmental Condition, or considered a de minimis risk, therefore not a Recognized Environmental Condition. Need a second opinion?   Send Caltha a description with photo and we will review at no cost or obligation – send to info@calthacompany.com

Typical Leaking Electric Transformer

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