Department of Ecology News Release - August 20, 2012

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Source control specialists working with small businesses to fight pollution in the city

OLYMPIA - What does preventing pollution have to do with saving money? Quite a bit, according to the businesses in Washington that have done both.

Guiding businesses through the process of preventing pollution on their property is the job of 37 "local source control specialists" across the state.

Gov. Chris Gregoire and the 2007 Legislature recognized that the health of small businesses is critical to the overall economy in Washington, and that their viability is directly tied to a clean environment. Toward that end, the Washington Legislature provided about $2.3 million in the 2007-2009 biennium to make sure small businesses had the help they needed to do the right thing. Because of the value of the program, state funding has continued, augmented by federals funds.

In January 2008, Ecology entered into 14 partnership contracts to use existing expertise in local health agencies and public utility districts to help small business owners prevent pollution and add a little extra to the bottom line. That number has grown to 25 partnerships, mostly in the northwest quarter of the state.

The technical assistance site visits are voluntary and there is no charge to the business.

From April 2008 through June 2012, the specialists conducted more than10,000 visits to businesses in Washington to help them properly manage, store and dispose of hazardous materials so they don't end up in our air, water and soil.

Small businesses typically have limited access to hazardous waste handling and disposal expertise. That's where the local control specialists step in, helping businesses find ways to reduce the use of hazardous materials, reuse what they can, dispose of waste properly, and in some cases eliminate a contaminant from the business process altogether.

"It's widely recognized that the state's economy depends on economically strong small businesses and that small businesses depend on a clean, pollution-free environment to be successful," said K. Seiler, who manages Ecology's Hazardous Waste and Toxics Reduction Program.

"Our assistance often saves them time and money, which are scarce resources for small businesses," Seiler said.

This one-to-one approach is expected to improve both our state's urban water quality and each business's bottom line through savings realized from reducing toxic chemicals used and from producing less dangerous waste. This way they avoid related disposal and cleanup costs.

Here are some examples of the work local source control specialists do:

"These businesses are to be congratulated for working with us to do their part to prevent pollution," said K. Seiler.  "All of them worked hard and did what it took to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem."

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Media Contact: Jani Gilbert, Communications, 509-329-3495; cell, 509-990-9177; e-mail jani.gilbert@ecy.wa.gov.

For more information:

Local Source Control Partnership (www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/hwtr/lsp/index.html)

To learn more about source control (www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/hwtr/lsp/aboutsc.html)

Economy and the Environment (www.ecy.wa.gov/economy.html)

Ecology's social media (www.ecy.wa.gov/about/newmedia.html)