City of Spokane looks to keep PCBs out of river

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by SHAWN CHITNIS & KREM.com

KREM.com

Posted on June 3, 2014 at 9:17 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 3 at 4:03 PM

SPOKANE, Wash. -- The Spokane City Council was set to vote on an ordinance Monday night to ban City staff from buying products containing harmful PCBs. City leaders said the chemical PCB was one of the biggest causes of pollution in the Spokane River.

Leaders said they were willing to spend more money to buy products that keep the chemical out of the city.

The Spokane River has an unhealthy level of PCBs, according to officials. Officials said those chemicals do not break down easily.

PCBs were used by companies for decades but banned in 1979. The chemical was still showing up in some products in 2014.

"I really think it's up to us as leaders in the community to set those standards and say we won't purchase products with PCBs,” said City Council president Ben Stuckart.

Stuckart said he did not want the City to use any product with the harmful chemical. The chemical can be found in anything from cleaning supplies and paper to motor oil and paint.

The City’s concern came after a Rutgers University study showed that some products with a yellow dye might have a similar form of the same harmful chemical.

The City hoped to identify more products that did not have the chemical.

“We just weren't tracking it or paying attention,” said Stuckart. "As we get closer to our river and make it accessible, we need to make sure it's cleaner."

City leaders said it was unclear how much the City has been using products with PCBs.

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