Wash. Bill Would Mellow Puchases of Yellow Products

By Paige Browning

A bill floating through the Washington state House would require state agencies to buy PCB-free products. Sponsoring Senator Andy Billig says it would reduce the amount of PCB pollution in the Spokane River.
PCBs are a toxic chemical found in trace amounts in certain products, though they were widely banned 25 years ago. Billig says PCBs can be found in certain products the state buys, like the yellow dye in road paint and in Cheerios cereal boxes. PCBs can be harmful to children, fish, and fish consumers. It sneaks into the river from places like Inland Empire Paper Company, who doesn’t use PCBs but recycles products that do.
Billig: “They were telling me there that recycling one Cheerios box, the yellow pigment in that Cheerios box, could show a measurable amount of PCBs. You have this huge facility, crate loads of paper going through, and one Cheerios box would show up making a difference in the PCB level.”
His bill would mandate that if PCBs are found in a product, the state purchase an alternative when possible and when cost effective.
Melissa Gombosky from the paper company testified at a house committee hearing today (Wednesday). She says having the state discontinue PCB products would help her company stop unwanted discharge in the river.
Gombosky: “The only solution right now would be for us to stop recycling, stop recycling this paper. So then what would happen is that paper would then go to a landfill or an incinerator, the PCB would then be in groundwater or come from air deposition.”
The bill passed in the Senate with just one nay vote, and could be up for a House committee vote on Friday.

Copyright 2014 Spokane Public Radio

The bill is scheduled for executive session in the House Committee on Technology & Economic Development, February 26th.
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