Pin It
Favorite

River Wars 

The Sierra Club steps into the fight to clean the Spokane River.

click to enlarge Spokane River
  • Spokane River

Environmental advocates have given the EPA a 60-day ultimatum: Make someone regulate dangerous toxins in the Spokane River, or we’ll sue you.

In particular, the Sierra Club and the Center for Environmental Law and Policy are looking for action on PCBs — chemicals widely used in industrial construction and banned more than 30 years ago, but which are still prevalent in the environment. Rainfall and storm water now wash the cancer-causing toxins from the ground and into the river. While it’s long been recognized that the river has dangerous levels of PCBs, the state Department of Ecology still hasn’t done a count of how many PCBs the river can absorb.

Instead, officials say they’re taking steps to clean up the toxins, according to their own plan. Jani Gilbert, a regional Ecology spokeswoman, wouldn’t elaborate on the Sierra Club case because it’s ongoing, but issued a statement that the department is pursuing more “efficient” efforts.

“With PCBs we needed to go a different route because they’re everywhere,” Gilbert says. “They come in from long distances, in the water, in the air — in everything.”

The federal Clean Water Act requires the state to complete a “total maximum daily load” or a TMDL for the chemical — a count of how many PCBs various operations release and how many the river can absorb. The state is supposed to then use those numbers to regulate operations like treatment plants to keep their discharges down and the river cleaner.

Earlier this year, the City of Spokane settled with the Spokane Riverkeeper, agreeing to clean up some PCBs its facilities release into the river, but that’s only the beginning, says Rachael Paschal Osborn, executive director of the Center for Environmental Law and Policy.

Ecology should follow the traditional requirements, Osborn says, or the EPA should make them.

“We have a problem with the agency not being willing or able to stand up to the polluters,” she says. “Dischargers are used to having their own way with the Spokane River, which is why it’s so polluted and needs some outside attention.”

  • Pin It

Speaking of Environment, spokane River

Latest in

  • The Council Whisperers
  • The Council Whisperers

    As the influence and activism of some city council assistants has grown, they've become a new target for conservative critics
    • Apr 28, 2016
  • Left Out
  • Left Out

    Two Spokane Valley city councilmen have resigned because of their differences with the four-person council majority
    • Apr 28, 2016
  • What Happened to John Marshall?
  • What Happened to John Marshall?

    The wife of a man found dead in the Spokane River is searching for answers three months after his death
    • Apr 28, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun
8th Annual Wine, Ride & Dine

8th Annual Wine, Ride & Dine @ Riverfront Park

Wednesdays, Thursdays, 4:30-6 p.m. Continues through May 19

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Heidi Groover

  • Brachytherapy Breakthrough
  • Brachytherapy Breakthrough

    A new option for treating skin cancer skips the scalpel
    • Dec 1, 2014
  • GU Shake-Up
  • GU Shake-Up

    The woman overseeing reports of sexual assault at Gonzaga resigns; plus, a new study on Lakeland Village
    • Nov 25, 2014
  • It's Exploding
  • It's Exploding

    Why lawmakers and cops are worried about people blowing themselves up
    • Nov 25, 2014
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Gentrification's Downside

    Displacement and the loss of an imperfect but honest neighborhood
    • Apr 14, 2016
  • Making Room for Culture

    Why Eastern Washington University should respond to students' needs for a multicultural center
    • Apr 28, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

green zone


marijuana


TRAIL MIX


Comment


Election 2016


Readers also liked…

  • "Unnatural Causes"
  • "Unnatural Causes"

    Al O'Connor had a wife he wanted to divorce, and a kind-hearted girlfriend he planned to marry. But then he suddenly dropped dead.
    • Sep 10, 2014
  • Game Changer
  • Game Changer

    Since Condon became mayor, Jan Quintrall has been responsible for some of the biggest changes in the city of Spokane — and some of its biggest controversies
    • Dec 17, 2014

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation