Pollution Levels In Spokane River Spark Lawsuit - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Pollution Levels In Spokane River Spark Lawsuit

SPOKANE, Wash. - The Pollution Control Hearings Board heard closing arguments Thursday in a lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club and the Center for Environmental Law and Policy to challenge the pollution discharge permit issued to Spokane County's new water sewage treatment plant, also known as the Regional Water Reclamation Facility.  

It's no secret the Spokane River is polluted with a chemical called polychlorinated biphenyl or PCBs. PCBs can be found items such as electrical transformers, paint additives, adhesives, inks and can even be found in dyes used in items like shampoo. 

Over time, the PCBs collect in the Spokane River and end up in the fish. The Spokane Tribe still eats a lot of fish out of the river, which can end up causing health problems.   

"PCBs are a threat to the developing nervous system and also a cause of cancers, so it's particularly a risk for pregnant women and children," said John Osborn, Chair Of Upper Columbia River Group for the Sierra Club." 

In 2012, the Spokane Regional Health District issues a Spokane River Fish Advisory that is still in effect because of the chemicals found in the Spokane River.  

"This river is not fishable and I think there are probably some people who avoid swimming in this river because of the pollution levels," Osborn said.  

Fish advisory officials say some fish can only be consumed once or twice a week, while others can only be eaten once a month. There is even a portion of the river near the Idaho border where the fish cannot be eaten at all because it is unsafe, which is part of the basis for the lawsuit.  

"It is not legal for the state to issue a permit to the Spokane County Sewage Treatment Plant to add more pollution to this already polluted river," Osborn said. 

However, the Department of Ecology disagrees.  

"We feel like with this plant is coming on board as one of the most efficient in the nation and it's actually doing a better job of removing PCBs, so we feel like it's the right choice to issue the permit and clean up the river rather than talk about it for another five years," said Department of Ecology Communications Manager Brook Beeler.  

Currently, there are five dischargers that empty into the Spokane River. However, the Spokane River Regional Toxics Task Force says the dischargers are only responsible for 8% of the PCBs that end up in the water.  

"It's not only coming form waste water treatments plants, but it's coming from storm water and other sources and the Spokane River is notoriously known for high levels of PCBs," Beeler said.   

The task force says 57% of the chemicals that end up in the Spokane River are coming from unknown sources.  

As for the new facility, the Department of Ecology says it is waste water that would end up in the river no matter what.  

"The Spokane County Water Reclamation Facility is actually treating eight million gallons a day, that used to go to the city of Spokane's Waste Water Treatment Facility, so essentially we're just moving that source to a different plant," Beeler said. "This plant actually removes PCBs at a better rate." 

However, there is no data at this time to prove whether or not the new facility is doing a better job.  

Closing arguments in the lawsuit were heard Thursday morning concerning the permit. However, it could be one to two months before a final decision is made.   

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Police impersonator attempts to pull over Spokane woman

    Police impersonator attempts to pull over Spokane woman

    Monday, September 17 2018 8:45 PM EDT2018-09-18 00:45:37 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. - "He told me to pull over, and my jaw just dropped," a Spokane woman, who says a fake police officer tried to pull her over, doesn't want to be named. In fear, this could happen again. "It really scared me and kind of threw me off that night. I don't even want to drive by myself anymore," she said. She tells me that she was driving around North Spokane at night on her way home from work. 

    >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - "He told me to pull over, and my jaw just dropped," a Spokane woman, who says a fake police officer tried to pull her over, doesn't want to be named. In fear, this could happen again. "It really scared me and kind of threw me off that night. I don't even want to drive by myself anymore," she said. She tells me that she was driving around North Spokane at night on her way home from work. 

    >>
  • Report: Olympia woman refuses to pull over for WSP trooper because she drives a Prius

    Report: Olympia woman refuses to pull over for WSP trooper because she drives a Prius

    Monday, September 17 2018 1:45 PM EDT2018-09-17 17:45:44 GMT

    MARYSVILLE, Wash. - An Olympia woman wouldn't pull over for a Washington State Patrol trooper because she drives a Prius, according to an arrest report.

    >>

    MARYSVILLE, Wash. - An Olympia woman wouldn't pull over for a Washington State Patrol trooper because she drives a Prius, according to an arrest report.

    >>
  • Police: Man killed by Cheney officers planned death

    Police: Man killed by Cheney officers planned death

    Tuesday, September 18 2018 1:27 AM EDT2018-09-18 05:27:11 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - Court documents indicate that a man who was killed by Cheney police officers earlier this month had reported himself to police the evening of the shooting. The Spokesman-Review reports 40-year-old Steve Anderson was shot by three officers in a grocery store parking lot after police say he was wielding a knife and moved toward officers. 

    >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - Court documents indicate that a man who was killed by Cheney police officers earlier this month had reported himself to police the evening of the shooting. The Spokesman-Review reports 40-year-old Steve Anderson was shot by three officers in a grocery store parking lot after police say he was wielding a knife and moved toward officers. 

    >>
HD DOPPLER 6i
/
  • Top Stories from KHQHomeMore>>

  • Construction on High Drive to be completed in early October

    Construction on High Drive to be completed in early October

    Tuesday, September 18 2018 4:54 PM EDT2018-09-18 20:54:43 GMT

    Construction is continuing on high drive.  High Drive is closed from 29th to 21st Avenue.  The purpose of all this work is to replace the old sewer line with a new one. Other improvements include infiltration swales, drainage structures, landscaping and irrigation, curb and sidewalk improvements as well as walkway for pedestrians. Officials say the project is going well and is on time.

    >>

    Construction is continuing on high drive.  High Drive is closed from 29th to 21st Avenue.  The purpose of all this work is to replace the old sewer line with a new one. Other improvements include infiltration swales, drainage structures, landscaping and irrigation, curb and sidewalk improvements as well as walkway for pedestrians. Officials say the project is going well and is on time.

    >>
  • CBS' Julie Chen leaves daytime's 'The Talk' after husband Les Moonves was ousted from network over sexual misconduct charges

    CBS' Julie Chen leaves daytime's 'The Talk' after husband Les Moonves was ousted from network over sexual misconduct charges

    Tuesday, September 18 2018 3:21 PM EDT2018-09-18 19:21:42 GMT

    Julie Chen has left the cast of the CBS daytime show "The Talk" a week after her husband, CBS Corp. boss Leslie Moonves, was ousted from the company due to sexual misconduct charges.    Chen announced her decision via a taped message on the show Tuesday, saying she needed to spend more time at home with her husband and their son. She appeared from the set of "Big Brother," the prime-time CBS show where she is the host.    

    >>

    Julie Chen has left the cast of the CBS daytime show "The Talk" a week after her husband, CBS Corp. boss Leslie Moonves, was ousted from the company due to sexual misconduct charges.    Chen announced her decision via a taped message on the show Tuesday, saying she needed to spend more time at home with her husband and their son. She appeared from the set of "Big Brother," the prime-time CBS show where she is the host.    

    >>
  • WATCH: Volunteer rescues dog tied to semi-truck pulling out of gas station

    WATCH: Volunteer rescues dog tied to semi-truck pulling out of gas station

    Tuesday, September 18 2018 2:35 PM EDT2018-09-18 18:35:45 GMT

    Talk about being at the right place at the right time. A volunteer with an Arizona Sheriff's Office helps rescue a dog attached to a moving semi-truck. The Yavapai County "volunteer in protection" officer pulling out of a gas station during his break at the same time tractor trailer heads up the interstate with forgotten cargo.  The patrol notices the dog running as the pet's leash remains attached to the rig.  

    >>

    Talk about being at the right place at the right time. A volunteer with an Arizona Sheriff's Office helps rescue a dog attached to a moving semi-truck. The Yavapai County "volunteer in protection" officer pulling out of a gas station during his break at the same time tractor trailer heads up the interstate with forgotten cargo.  The patrol notices the dog running as the pet's leash remains attached to the rig.  

    >>