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Re: [TowerTalk] Heath Cantenna

To: <>, <>,<>
Subject: Re: [TowerTalk] Heath Cantenna
From: "Jim Lux" <>
Date: Sun, 6 Jun 2004 17:03:40 -0700
List-post: <>
Oil, or askarel?  transformer oil, per se, isn't likely to be contaminated with 
dioxins (the real problem).  Oil has almost always been cheaper than the PCBs, 
so if the utility had a choice, they'd probably fill with oil, being a 
generally cost sensitive bunch. PCBs were used in places where the flammability 
of oil is a problem (in buildings, in capacitors, etc.)

However, Bob is right.. if it's 30 years old, you really don't know.  It could 
have been filled from "that bucket over there in the corner that we drained out 
of the transformer".

As a practical matter (flame war about to start), though, PCB contamination is 
more of a logistical and legal problem than a health problem.  The amount in a 
dummy load isn't going to cause any real problems, especially if it's sealed 
and not leaking. The problems that HAVE been reported with PCBs have been with 
chronic  exposure, or in connection with very high concentrations of dioxins 
(i.e. manufacturing waste dumps), not with ppb amounts that are an omnipresent 
contaminant in all sorts of things.

The real problem is that once it's found, it triggers a huge regulatory 
infrastructure designed to make sure that it's in the "trivially small" amount 
category, not the "oh yeah, we used to clean out the tanks in the back parking 
lot with solvent" category.  The regulatory and remediation process isn't all 
that expensive for a small amount IF you think in terms of decent size 
businesses (i.e. a few thousand dollars), and it might be covered by your 
insurance in any case.  It's cripplingly expensive if you think in terms of 
scrounging insulating oil at hamfests.

It's enough of a problem that it is essentially impossible to buy surplus/scrap 
 electrical switchgear which is liquid insulated from the utilities in southern 
California.  They don't want the risk that it "might" be contaminated and that 
you will "mishandle" it, triggering their liability (since it's "on the list" 
it triggers cradle to grave responsibility.. everyone who touched it along it's 
life path is liable for cleanup: designed to prevent waste generators from 
hiring "abc disposal" and claiming that it's abc's problem).  Even worse, they 
worry that you might take their (known clean) stuff and intermingle it with 
something contaminated in your scrapyard, then you get tagged with it, and 
because they can't establish traceability, they go back and hassle everyone who 
supplied anything to your yard.  
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  To: ; ; 
  Sent: Sunday, June 06, 2004 12:24 PM
  Subject: Re: [TowerTalk] Heath Cantenna

  In a message dated 6/6/04 11:24:15 AM US Mountain Standard Time, writes:
    Why would it be deadly?  They're filled with oil.

    You're probably thinking about PCBs?

  Let's not get too hasty and complacent here. In the early-mid 70s before the 
PCB transformer notoriety, in Detroit for sure, many amateurs were having their 
dummy loads filled with transformer oils. The guys in Salvage at Detroit Edison 
back then made this a standard deal to their friends.Unknown to them they were 
PCB oils since the PCB "problem" didnt raise its ugly head until later in the 

  I am sure their were many other utility people that offered the same 

  I.e. have no idea what is in that Cantenna. 

  73, Bob K8IA
  in the shadow of the Superstition Mtns
  Arizona USA

See:  for "Self Supporting Towers", "Wireless Weather 
Stations", and lot's more.  Call Toll Free, 1-800-333-9041 with any questions 
and ask for Sherman, W2FLA.

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