Spokane River Regional Toxics Task Force Finalizes Comprehensive Plan for addressing PCBs in the Spokane River


New comprehensive plan for the Spokane River guides actions for reducing PCBs

Spokane, WA – A positive step toward a cleaner Spokane River was quietly recorded this past December. The Spokane River Regional Toxics Task Force (Task Force) released a comprehensive plan that identifies a variety of actions that could prevent more polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from polluting the Spokane River. PCBs are a probable human carcinogen that can build up in people and fish. The entire plan can be viewed on the Task Force website.

The plan was developed to guide projects in Idaho and Washington that will identify, reduce and eliminate PCB sources to the river. It lays out findings from several years of studies that measured the extent of PCB pollution in various sections of the river and identified sources of PCBs and how they reach the river.

PCBs remain in the environment and build up over time in fish, animals and people. The Washington Department of Health advises people to limit the amount of fish they consume from the river over many years for most species because of PCBs. That’s why finding even tiny amounts of these chemicals in the Spokane River requires action.

The plan also specifies projects and practices that, if applied, will reduce PCBs in the river. Examples include, measures to capture polluted stormwater through green building design and state-of-the-art treatment technology for industrial and municipal dischargers to filter PCBs out of their wastewater before it enters the river.

PCB control actions include, but are not limited to:

  • wastewater treatment
  • known site remediation
  • stormwater controls
  • low impact development (LID)
  • purchasing standards for products known to contain PCBs
  • support of green chemistry alternatives
  • regulatory rulemaking to reduce origin of PCBs
  • building demolition and renovation control
  • education efforts to help the public understand the scope of PCB pollution and reduction actions

The Task Force will evaluate the success of the effort by tracking project milestones and assessing effectiveness of individual actions to protect the river. The Task Force is a diverse body of stakeholders (dischargers, environmental groups, and agencies) formed in 2012 to develop a plan to bring the Spokane River into compliance with applicable water quality standards for PCBs. This plan represents conclusions reached through data collection, evolving technology, national expert consultation and deliberation among Task Force members.


The Spokane River begins in northern Idaho at the outlet of Coeur d’Alene Lake and flows west 112 miles to the Columbia River. Sections of the Spokane River and Lake Spokane have been placed on Washington’s EPA-approved 303(d) list of impaired waters for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The impairments are based on concentrations of PCBs measured in fish tissue that exceeded a fish tissue equivalent concentration for applicable water quality standards.

PCBs are a man-made chemical produced for industrial use by Monsanto from the late 1930s until they were largely banned as an environmental and human health hazard in 1979. Because they resist breaking down in the environment, PCBs persist in soils, surface water, and groundwater. PCBs do not attach to water but readily attach to lipids (fats) and carbon. As a result, they accumulate in aquatic organisms and magnify in concentration as they go higher up the food chain. This means that apex consumers (such as osprey or humans) that consume fish or other aquatic organisms can accumulate large concentrations of PCBs over time, resulting in magnified health risks. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, individuals who are continually exposed to PCBs are at increased risk of developing cancer and experiencing toxic effects on bodily systems.

PCBs are still allowed when inadvertently produced, such as during the manufacture of certain pigments, inks and dyes that are then used in thousands of products. Because PCBs resist breaking down in the environment, both older, legacy PCBs and newer, inadvertent PCBs still show up in residential and industrial wastewater, stormwater, groundwater and soils and ultimately reach our waterways.

Tom Agnew, Liberty Lake Sewer and Water District, 509-255-6686

John Beacham, City of Post Falls, 208-777-9857

Brooke Beeler, WA Department of Ecology, 509-329-3478

Galen Buterbaugh, Lake Spokane Association, 509-465-2289

Adrienne Cronebaugh, Kootenai Environmental Alliance, 208-667-9093

Chris Donley, WA Department of Fish and Wildlife, 509-892-1001 Ext 307

Don Keil, City of Coeur d’Alene, 208-769-228

Doug Krapas, Inland Empire Paper, 509-924-1911

Greg Lahti, WA Department of Transportation, 509-324-6138

Mike LaScuola, Spokane Regional Health District, 509-324-1574

Bud Leber, Kaiser Aluminum, 509-927-6554

Dave McBride, WA Department of Health, 360-236-3176

Dave Moss, Spokane County, 509-477-7572

Mike Petersen, The Lands Council, 509-209-2408

Dan Redline, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, 208-769-1422

Elizabeth Schoedel, City of Spokane, 509-625-6232

Jerry White, Riverkeeper, 509-835-5211


Ecology News: State Solid and Hazardous Waste Plan- Moving Washington Beyond Waste and Toxics

Here is a sample of work the Department of Ecology and our partners around the state have been doing to support the goals in the State Solid and Hazardous Waste Plan – Moving Washington Beyond Waste and Toxics:

o   Cascadia Consulting group, working with FCS and Abbe & Associates, is working on identifying potential sustainable funding mechanisms for components of Washington’s solid waste system. The process will include two surveys (the first has already been sent out to this Listserv), with a final report expected in June 2017.

o   For more information, contact Janine Bogar, 360-407-6654

o   The 2016 Statewide Waste Characterization Study is done, providing updated data from the last study, which was completed in 2009. The largest components in our waste stream, by weight, continue to be organics and paper. This study also provides a breakdown of products versus packaging, as well as edible (at the time of disposal) versus inedible food.

o   For more information, contact Gretchen Newman, 360-407-6097

  • Northwest Region Commingled Recycling Report and Next Steps

(Supports Goal SWM 5, Actions 5A and 5B on page 27 in the Solid Waste and Materials section)

o   Ecology led a large, diverse and dedicated group of stakeholders who researched and wrote this informative report, titled Optimizing the Commingled Recycling System in Northwest Washington. The group is now starting to work on recommendations from the report. Three workgroups are being established:  1) Educational Messaging; 2) Contracting Harmonization; and 3) Packaging Industry Collaboration. Statewide participants are welcome and needed.

o   For more information, contact Alli Kingfisher, 509-329-3448

  • Greening State Contracts with Environmentally Preferred Purchasing (EPP)

(Supports Goal RIMP 2, Action RIMP 2A on page 34 in the Reducing Impacts of Materials and Products section)

o   Ecology and the Department of Enterprise Services are joining forces to prioritize and green more state purchasing contracts.  Currently, they are focusing on state contracts for Facilities Maintenance and Repair supplies, Bulk, Frozen and Canned Food, Compostable Food Serviceware, and Janitorial Chemicals.

o   For more information, contact Tina Simcich, 360-407-7517

o   The Polychlorinated Biphenyls in Consumer Products report was published in November 2016.  This study examined 201 common consumer items, such as paints and packaging, to look for the presence of byproduct PCBs. The study included products purchased under Department of Enterprise Services contracts. According to state law (RCW 39.26.280 and RCW 39.26.290), the state has a preference for purchasing non-PCB containing items.

o   For more information, contact Kari Trumbull, 360-407-6093

o   A series of training videos on designating your waste are available on Ecology’s website.  An additional video on pharmaceuticals will be available in Spring 2017.  Many pharmaceuticals can be hazardous to people or the environment if they are thrown away or flushed down the drain.

o   For more information, contact Joanne Lind, 360-407-6474

  • Ecology is collaborating with University of Washington and others to provide training opportunities for identifying safer chemicals.
  • Transitioning to Safer Chemicals – in-person 1.5 day training (learn more)
  • List Translator: Introducing a Tool to Screen for Chemical Hazards – a 1.5 hour webinar to learn the basic principles of chemical hazard assessments, why they are of interest and simple tools to identify and screen out hazardous chemicals (learn more)
  • Using List Translators to Screen for Chemical Hazards– in person ¾ day training (learn more)
  • Additional topics and training sessions will be available in the future.
  • For more information, contact Saskia van Bergen, 360-407-6609.

Thank you for your interest in the State Solid and Hazardous Waste Plan,

–          Janine Bogar | Washington State Department of Ecology | Waste 2 Resources Program | 360-407-6654  |janine.bogar@ecy.wa.gov

and-          Chris Chapman | Washington State Department of Ecology |Hazardous Waste & Toxics Reduction Program  |360-407-7160  |chris.chapman@ecy.wa.gov


Ecology News: Announcement from Ecology regarding our State Fiscal Year 2018 Draft Funding Offer List and Intended Use Plan.

The Department of Ecology’s (Ecology) Water Quality Program is pleased to announce the availability of the State Fiscal Year 2018 (SFY18) Draft Funding Offer List and Intended Use Plan (Draft List) for public review and comment. The Draft List describes how Ecology proposes to use state and federal dollars to fund projects focused on improving water quality across the state.

This year Ecology evaluated more than 225 applications, including 169 new and 56 carryover projects from local governments, tribes, conservation districts, other public entities, and qualified not-for-profit organizations. New funding requests totaled approximately $297 million. Ecology is proposing grant and loan funding for 165 projects totaling approximately $188 million. The total includes $115 million in loans from the Washington State Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund, approximately $42 million in grants from the Stormwater Financial Assistance Program, approximately $29 million in grants from the Centennial Clean Water Program, and approximately $1.6 million in grants from the Clean Water Act Section 319 Program. The projects proposed for funding reflect the highest priority water quality projects across the state. Projects proposed for funding include:

  • 36 nonpoint source pollution control activity projects.
  • 2 local onsite sewage system repair and replacement projects.
  • 7 stormwater control activity projects.
  • 89 stormwater facility projects.
  • 31 wastewater facility projects.

The Draft List is available at https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/publications/SummaryPages/1710003.html. In addition, the Draft List and other SFY18 Funding Cycle information are available at http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wq/funding/Opp/WQC/CyclePages/WQC2018.html.

A public review and comment period is open until 5:00pm on February 20, 2017. Ecology will hold a public information meeting to present the Draft List and discuss the project evaluation and funding cycle process. Details on the public meeting are listed below.

Date:  February 16
Time:   1:00 pm
Place:  Pierce County Library, 3005 112th Street East, Tacoma, WA 98446

Please mail, email, or fax any written comments on the Draft List to:
Daniel Thompson
Department of Ecology
Water Quality Program – Financial Management Section
P.O. Box 47600
Olympia, WA 98504-7600
Fax: 360-407-7151
Email: daniel.thompson@ecy.wa.gov

A Final Funding Offer List and Intended use Plan (Final List) will be developed and issued following the receipt of public comments, awarding of federal grants, and passage of the state 2017-19 Biennial Budget. The Final List is expected to be published by July 1, 2017. Any public comments received on the Draft List will be addressed in the Final List.


February 1, 2017 Technical Track Work Group Meeting

The next meeting of the SRRTTF Task Force and Technical Track Work group is:

Date: Wednesday, February 1, 2017
Time: 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Location: Washington Department of Ecology
N. 4601 Monroe St.
Spokane, WA 99205
Click here for a map.

Call In Number: 509-335-2277
Conference ID: 2740350

*Copies will be made for in-person meeting attendees.

AgendaTech Track WG agn 02-05-17 draft_revised
–  Control Actions_Work Plan Tracking_01-13-17

Workplan flowcharts for discussion

Comp Plan TImeline 11117ldw (flow chart from the 1.25.17 meeting)

2017 workplan concepts_data mining

5.13.1 Demolition Renovation and Control

5.14.1 Actions

Link to 2015 Technical Report

River mile relationships (newly added the morning of 2.1.17)

February 1, 2017 Education and Outreach Work Group Meeting

The next meeting of the SRRTTF Education and Outreach Work group is:

Date: Wednesday February 1, 2017
Time: 1:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Location: Washington Department of Ecology
N. 4601 Monroe St.
Spokane, WA 99205
Click here for a map.

Call in Number: 509-335-2277
Conference ID: 7775794

SRRTTF E&O meeting 2.1.17_DRAFT Summary


  • Intros and agenda review
  • Review and followup of action items from the January 4, 2017 meeting
    • Landing Page- Kristen Zimmer
    • Education and Outreach (comp plan) -logic diagram – Jerry White
  • Tie up brainstorming session from the previous meeting:(key messages, PCB story)
  • Communication Work Plan
    • Plan for next year, actions, milestones, timeline, etc
  • Grants and Funding for outreach?

SRRTTF E&O meeting 1.4.17_DRAFT Summary



January 25, 2017 Spokane River Regional Toxics Task Force Meeting

The next meeting of the Spokane River Regional Toxics Task Force is:

Date: Wednesday, January 25 , 2017
Time: 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Liberty Lake Sewer & Water District Office
22510 E. Mission Avenue Liberty Lake, WA 99019
Click here for a map

To attend by phone:
Call In Number: (509) 335-2277
Participant Code: 5266916

Meeting Documents:
SRRTTF 01.25.17 FINAL summary notes

Meeting Agenda:
–  SRRTTF_01-25-17_agenda_revised

Meeting Summaries:
SRRTTF 11.16.16 Meeting Summary DRAFT (Decision)
SRRTTF/TTWG Meeting Summary Notes DRAFT_12.7.16 (Decision)
SRRTTF TTWG meeting 01-04-17 notes DRAFT
Other Meeting Documents:
 SRRTTF Comp Plan Press Release – Suggeste Edits – Dave Moss and Dan Redline (Decision)
 Lands Council SRRTTF Letter of support  DRAFT  (Decision, please note this letter is based off of a previously accepted Task Force letter of support for a Lands Council grant proposal)
 Control Actions_Work Plan Tracking_01-13-17
 Comp Plan TImeline 1.11.17 ldw
  2017 workplan concepts_data mining
  Green Chemistry Logic Diagram

Ecology News: Notice of Meetings on Washington’s Water Quality Assessment: January 19 and February 9, 2017

The Washington Department of Ecology continues to hold meetings to have public dialogue on key issues around how we develop Washington’s Water Quality Assessment.  These meetings are being held in-person and by webinar.  Please mark your calendar for the following meeting dates and register if you are interested in attending:

  • Register for the January 19 meeting in Renton to discuss Data Used in the Assessment and Bioassessment.
  • Register for the February 9 meeting (sites in Lacey and Spokane) to discuss human health criteria and the use of fish tissue.

For more information and details go to our website: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wq/303d/proposed/index.html.

Questions should be addressed to: Susan Braley, Watershed Management Section, Washington Department of Ecology
Phone: (360) 407-6414
email: susan.braley@ecy.wa.gov


UPDATE: WAC 173-350-995 Soil and Sediment Use Criteria

Update on the Soil and Sediment Use Criteria rule making.

WAC 173-350-995 Soil and Sediment Use Criteria

Previously proposed section 235 has been combined with new section 995 as Soil and Sediment Use Criteria. This new section addresses testing and terrestrial use of soil or sediment impacted by the release of one or more contaminants. The section sets contaminant limits for use in particular settings, and requires no permitting for conformance with the section. The section will not apply to soil or sediment within cleanup sites or thatare dangerous waste.

This topic was discussed by Marnie Solheim  at a previous Task Force meeting regarding the potential regulatory disconnect, given cleanup standards are not the same as water quality standards. Marnie presented at the September 2016 Task Force meeting. To see the summary of that discussion go to http://srrttf.org/?p=6988.

Ecology News: Ecology has filed the following: Preproposal Statement of Inquiry (CR-101) for Chapter 173-321 WAC, Public Participation Grants

Ecology has filed the following rulemaking Preproposal Statement of Inquiry (CR-101) was filed with the Office of the Code Reviser:

Chapter 173-321 WAC,  Public Participation  Grants
For more information:

Ecology News: Public Notices – Permits

Ecology has filed the following public notices with the Office of the Code Reviser:

Public Notice: Announcing the Reissuance of the Aquatic Noxious Weed Control General Permit
For more information:

Public Notice: Announcing the Public Comment Period and Hearing for the Draft Modification of the Construction Stormwater General Permit
For more information: