Cleaning up transformer oil spills
A transformer is a device that converts electrical energy from a higher voltage to a lower voltage. Transformers are commonly found at the top of power poles. Transformers contain mineral oil which is used for cooling and insulating the transformer. From time to time, mineral oil may leak from the transformer.
Is the leaked mineral oil dangerous?
The toxicity of the mineral oils that are currently used in all Western Power transformers is low. A small percentage of older transformers, manufactured before 1979, may contain extremely low concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) in the mineral oil. PCB is an organic compound that up until the 1970s was used in mineral oil as an insulating medium within electrical equipment. The toxicity of mineral oil containing PCB is still low. Transformer oil may only be harmful if ingested.
How does Western Power clean up the oil spills?
Following any type of transformer mineral oil spill, Western Power will immediately act to minimise any impact on the environment and public safety by contracting specialists to clean up the area.
The clean up process involves:
- fixing the leak and, if required, containing any leaked oil
- inspecting the site to determine the extent of the clean up required
- removing contaminated soil and materials
- sampling the area to confirm that all the contaminated soil has been removed
- reinstating the affected area
- disposing of any contaminated material in a licensed landfill site
Is there anything I need to do?
If you notice liquid leaking from a transformer in your area, contact Western Power on 13 13 51.
Please try to avoid direct contact with the oil. Western Power will work to fix the leak and clean up the spill as quickly as possible.