Editorial: Spokane Tribe's complaint won't aid environment

"Spokane County’s $173 million sewage treatment plant is ready to be tested. Conceivably it could be operating by year’s end and making an immediate reduction in the amount of PCBs and other contaminants going into the Spokane River.

For now, though, the whole project is stalled, thanks to a protest by the Spokane Indian Tribe over – PCBs. Even though the new plant would remove an estimated 80 percent to 90 percent more PCBs than the city of Spokane’s plant is now removing, the tribe has demanded that the level of PCBs in the water be too low to be detected by current lab technology.

As Voltaire put it, “the better is the enemy of the good.”

PCB is the shorthand name for polychlorinated biphenyls, a material with qualities that made it suitable for a wide range of industrial uses. Unfortunately, it also poses certain threats to human health, being identified as a probable carcinogen, and it has been almost entirely banned since 1979.

Still, an abundance of PCBs continues to litter the landscape, the legacy of half a century’s use throughout the economy. They have been dumped on the ground at industrial sites. They have been scattered by winds and blown into the atmosphere, sometimes descending with raindrops. They can be deposited on hillsides and city streets and be washed into streams, lakes and storm drains."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Treatment plant delay won’t help environment (The Spokesman Review 6/12)

Another Opinion:
Rachael Paschal Osborn: County, Ecology ignored treatment plant permit warnings (The Spokesman Review 6/11)

Related Stories:
Spokane Tribe concerned about pollutants at sewage plant (6/7)

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