Department of Ecology News Release - December 4, 2012

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Ecology seeks comments on report about contamination levels at the State Penitentiary in Walla Walla

SPOKANE – The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) is accepting comments on a report that describes an investigation into the extent of contamination at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. The report also evaluates cleanup options

Ecology investigators found the chemicals trichloroethylene (TCE) and perchloroethylene (PCE) in groundwater. TCE and PCE are chemicals that may cause health problems if there is prolonged exposure.

The “remedial investigation” study found that the levels of TCE and PCE do not exceed current state standards set to protect both human health and the environment. Department of Corrections (DOC) contractors tested additional groundwater wells in the vicinity and found none of these chemicals and related contaminants. The city of Walla Walla found no sign of the contamination spreading into drinking water wells through regular testing

Gasoline and lead were found in some locations in the soil that exceeds state standards. Three options for protecting the public from exposure to these products are outlined in the study

TCE and PCE are chemicals that were commonly used in furniture refinishing and repair, license plate manufacturing, dry cleaning, motor pool maintenance, metal working and welding, photo processing, sign manufacturing, and medical and dental labs at the penitentiary.

Ecology and DOC entered into a formal legal agreement, which required the study

Ecology will host a public meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 10, 2012, at the Whitman College, Reid Campus Center Reid G02 Room, 280 Boyer Avenue, to explain the study and cleanup options.

The documents are available at Ecology’s office at 4601 N. Monroe St. in Spokane. Call Kari Johnson at 509-329-3415 for an appointment. They also are available at the Walla Walla Public Library on Alder St., the DOC Library in Walla Walla, and online.

Send comments by Jan. 8, 2012 to: Sandra Treccani, WA Department of Ecology, 4601 N. Monroe St., Spokane, WA 99205-1295; 509 329-3412; sandra.treccani@ecy.wa.gov

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Media Contact:

Brook Beeler, Communications Manager, 509 329-3478, cell 509 290-0855, brook.beeler@ecy.wa.gov

Ecology's WA DOC Washington State Penitentiary website (https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/gsp/Sitepage.aspx?csid=4971)

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