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Groups fault Spokane River cleanup plan

Mon., July 18, 2011, 2:29 p.m.

Two environmental groups have filed notice of intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to require Washington state to prepare a plan to rid the Spokane River of PCBs.

Sierra Club and the Center for Environmental Law & Policy claim the state is sidestepping the Clean Water Act by issuing new pollution permits without preparing a cleanup plan.

An EPA spokesman say the agency would not comment on pending litigation. The Washington Department of Ecology issued a prepared statement, saying the pollution permits represent a real improvement for the river.

“PCBs are a different breed of pollutant, and they need to be addressed differently,” the statement said. “They are everywhere, and some come from long distances. A traditional water quality improvement plan puts strict requirements on dischargers, but the dischargers aren’t the largest source of PCBs. Ecology determined that it made sense to make improvements in the river now instead of waiting for a (water quality improvement plan) that could take many years to complete.”

The two groups said Monday they will file suit after 60 days if the EPA fails to act.

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