Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Night 28° Partly Cloudy

Down To Earth

A bad day at the races

Raceway supporters, there’s something in the water you should know about.

Spokane County received a notice regarding their recently purchased raceway: It will be added to the state’s “Hazardous Sites List” after the discovery of a bad chemical in the water supply. Tim Connor at the Center For Justice: “Just days before Spokane County placed the winning bid for its $4.3 million purchase of Spokane Raceway Park in Airway Heights, a contractor working for the site’s court-appointed receiver gathered water samples at the site. The results were ominous. Lab analysis found the samples contained trichloroethylene (TCE) at concentrations twice the federal drinking water standard. TCE is a solvent and a widely-known hazardous substance. (It was the major contaminant, for example, in the notorious groundwater contamination at Woburn, Massachusetts that inspired the book and movie, A Civil Action.) The lab results showed TCE levels at just over 11 micrograms per liter (µg/l.) The federal drinking water standard for TCE is 5 µg/l.”


The story gets incredibly stranger. The Center For Justice filed a public records request which discovered the lab results found TCE was disclosed to county officials days before the auction; “Spokane County Utilities” was listed as the client. County Commissioner Bonnie Mager confirmed with the Center the three county commissioners were aware of the contamination. She said it was one of the reasons she cast her vote against the purchase. “I remember thinking we would for sure pull back,” Mager told Connor. “But there was no way. There was no stopping them.”

TCE is nothing to mess with. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), said “drinking or breathing high levels of TCE may cause nervous system effects, liver and lung damage, abnormal heartbeat, coma, and possibly death.”

Read the “Toxics at the track” by Tim Connor.

Down To Earth

The DTE blog is committed to reporting and sharing environmental news and sustainability information from across the Inland Northwest.