POLYCHLORINATED BIPHENYLS (PCBs)
The NPDES permit also requires all dischargers to the Spokane River in Washington to participate in the Spokane River Regional Toxic Task Force, a group that includes environmental organizations, tribes, regulators and others to study Polychlorinated Biphenyl’s (PCB’s). The District also is a member and participates in the Spokane River Stewardship Partners. Manufacture and use of PCB’s ended in the mid 70’s in the U.S., but the residual is ubiquitous in the environment. The Toxic Task Force is involved in reviewing existing data on PCB’s, developing a public education program on PCB’s and creating a comprehensive plan to reduce PCB’s and other toxics in the river. In addition, dischargers will conduct testing within their systems to determine sources of PCB’s. Testing for PCB’s at the levels required in the permit cannot be done locally. In fact, there are only a couple of labs in North America that can test to the levels required, i.e. parts per quadrillion. The District is sending samples to a lab in Vancouver B.C. at a cost of nearly $1000 per sample. Additional testing is also required for dioxins, metals and other elements. The increase cost in sampling alone in 2012 is over $40,000. How small is parts per quadrillion? The Vancouver lab gave the analogy that a parts per quadrillion is like taking the entire area of Canada and place a dollar bill on the ground. The dollar bill would represent the one part per quadrillion. The toxics task force has 5 years to produce a plan for the reduction of PCB’s in the river system. The District’s treatment facility upgrades and increase in sampling will ultimately result in increased sewer rates in the future.
PHARMACEUTICALS AND TOXICS DISPOSAL
Don’t flush drugs or toxics down the toilet or dispose of these chemicals into street drains, sewers, drywells or at self-service car washes which could contaminate surface or groundwater. The District’s Water Reclamation Plant is a biological plant and not designed to remove these chemicals. The Spokane County Transfer Station at 3941 North Sullivan will take toxics such as oil, antifreeze, paint, pesticides, herbicides, solvents, etc. free of charge. For additional information contact the Spokane County recycle hotline (509) 625-6800. For pharmaceuticals, utilize the local law enforcement special disposal days when advertised.