The Washington state Department of Ecology has completed an investigation report on a former industrial site in East Spokane that is polluted with polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs.
The site, at 708 N. Cook, had been used by now-defunct Spokane Transformer Inc., which repaired and recycled transformers there from 1961 to 1979, and later by Spokane City Parcel Inc., a parcel delivery service, Ecology says. Spokane City Parcel used the site as its base operation from 1980 until 2001, when it moved nearby to 3023 E. Trent. It still leases the site for a small portion of its operations, says City Parcel President Jim Thurber.
In its remedial investigation conducted last spring and summer, Ecology found extensive PCB contamination in soils just beneath a gravel parking area on the north side of a building and in the alleyway east of the property. The department says 87 of the 108 soil samples taken at the site contained PCB concentrations greater than the state standard allowed, which is 1 milligram per kilogram of soil. The highest level of PCB concentration measured among the samples was 11,500 milligrams per kilogram.
PCBs were used commonly as coolants and lubricants in transformers, capacitors, and other electrical equipment before being banned by the U.S. government in 1977 in response to concerns about their effects on human health and the environment.
The remedial investigation wasnt able to confirm whether ground water on the site also is contaminated, the department says. In a sampling last April, Ecology found PCB levels above the state standard in one of the monitoring wells it had installed for the investigation, but in a second sampling in July none of the monitoring wells showed detectable PCB levels.
The departments report recommended that additional ground-water samples be taken to see if seasonal changes in ground-water levels resulted in different findings. Ecology began taking those additional samples earlier this month, and plans to take more samples in May, says Teresita Bala, the departments site manager for that potential cleanup site. Ecology also recommends additional soil sampling to determine the depth of PCB contamination.
The department collected public comment between Jan. 16 and Feb. 18 for its remedial investigation report. The next step, says Bala, is for Ecology to take a look at the ground-water samples taken this month and in May, and decide in June whether to go ahead with a feasibility study that would outline cleanup alternatives and the anticipated costs of those alternatives.
For now, Ecology is paying for the remedial investigations, and could decide to pay for the feasibility study as well, Bala says. She says that the department also will have to decide to what extent it plans to go after the potentially liable persons it has identified for the contamination site for recovery of costs associated with investigation and cleanup. So far, those include Paul Gisselberg, the sites current owner and former owner of City Parcel; and Richard Boyce and Jerry Overton, who Bala says are the former operators of Spokane Transformer Inc.
Ecology says that limited investigations of the site were made by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency between 1976 and 1997 and by Gisselberg, who submitted a proposed cleanup plan for the site in 1998.
The department reviewed the proposal, but asked for additional investigations.
In 2001, it identified Gisselberg, Boyce, and Overton as potentially liable persons and invited them to negotiate an agreed order to do a remedial investigation and feasibility study of the site. Ecology says they didnt accept the invitation in a timely manner, so it went ahead with the investigation on its own.
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