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Delay Requested On Rulemaking For PCBs In Spokane River

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The Spokane Riverkeeper group is asking that rulemaking regarding PCB pollution in the Spokane River be put on hold until Governor Jay Inslee's “Stay Home-Stay Healthy” order has been rescinded.

The group sent a letter to the governor and Department of Ecology asking the process be delayed until after the COVID crisis is over.


Currently, Ecology is looking at allowing those who discharge into the river extra time, or “variances,” in meeting the current standards for PCBs discharged to the river. Those chemicals have been linked to cancer in humans.

In lieu of public meetings, the agency has resorted to webinars in recent weeks to continue discussions on that process, including with the Spokane Riverkeeper group and its representative, Jerry White. 


We had a dialogue with them and said, OK, the webinars for the public workshops that just explained variances are probably OK. It's the idea of having hearings in May for having a draft environmental impact statement that we are looking forward to, that and saying you have to stop the process now,” White said.


He says the group wants to ensure as much public access to that process as possible.


Ecology Department spokeswoman Melissa Gildersleeve says her agency received the Riverkeeper letter and is deciding on its next step.

“You know the Governor will be re-looking at his “Stay Home-Stay Healthy” but I think were also looking at even if that changes , what will it change to and how do we reach out to folks to help them understand this,” she said.


Gildersleeve said they held two webinars on the topic Wednesday with members of the public, but admits an evening session was canceled after the technology kicked participants off the webinar three times.


Steve was part of the Spokane Public Radio family for many years before he came on air in 1999. His wife, Laurie, produced Radio Ethiopia in the late 1980s through the '90s, and Steve used to “lurk in the shadowy world” of Weekend SPR. Steve has done various on air shifts at the station, including nearly 15 years as the local Morning Edition host. Currently, he is the voice of local weather and news during All Things Considerd, writing, editing, producing and/or delivering newscasts and features for both KPBX and KSFC. Aside from SPR, Steve ,who lives in the country, enjoys gardening, chickens, playing and listening to music, astronomy, photography, sports cars and camping.