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Con Edison Commits to Implement Lead Reductions

In a May 29 ceremony held in New York, EPA welcomed New York electrical company Con Edison into its Partnership for Environmental Priorities Program (NPEP) as the company committed to replace underground cables containing lead with less hazardous alternatives.

According to EPA, Con Edison's commitment is one of the largest in the national NPEP program to date. The program promotes the reduction and elimination of priority chemicals in the operations of companies and organizations nationwide.

“By significantly reducing its use of lead, Con Edison is exhibiting environmental leadership and improving power service for New Yorkers,” said EPA Regional Administrator Alan Steinberg. “By taking the steps necessary to be a partner, Con Ed is embracing the NPEP motto: ‘Better Environment, Better Neighbor, and Better Business.’”

Con Edison’s plan is to remove 2,400 sections of underground paper-insulated, lead-clad electric feeder cables in 2008 and another 2,400 sections in 2009. Each section of lead-clad cable is estimated to contain approximately 1,000 pounds of encased lead sheathing, which will be recycled at a nearby local recycling facility. As a long-term goal, Con Edison plans to replace all of these cables by 2020. Con Edison estimates that at the conclusion of this project, as much as 15,000 tons of reclaimed lead sheathing will be recycled as a result of these recycling efforts. Currently, paper-insulated, lead-clad cables make up 20 percent of Con Edison’s underground electric network.

When these cables are removed, they will be replaced by solid dielectric cables, which are made of copper conductors surrounded by synthetic rubber. This alternative is considered superior to lead-clad cables in both environmental and electric distribution characteristics.

Beyond its commitment to lead reduction, Con Edison also has removed most of its equipment that contained high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) over the last decade. To date, all recovered equipment has been decontaminated and recycled.

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