What do mercury, flame retardants, and polychlorinated biphenyls have in common? All of these persistent chemicals, and many other toxics, have been detected in Washington State’s waterways. Together, they are creating new toxic cleanup “hot spots” for local communities to address.
The sources of these contaminants include stormwater runoff, spills, and poor business practices. Small businesses in particular are a concern because many permits and pollution prevention programs overlook businesses that generate only small quantities of hazardous waste. To address this need, Washington launched the Local Source Control Partnership to deliver local, hands-on assistance for small businesses.
Through the partnership, 21 local governments across Washington work with the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) to provide technical and regulatory assistance on spill prevention, proper chemical management, and the safe disposal of hazardous waste. Pollution prevention specialists with the partnership make in-person visits to businesses, looking for improper chemical storage, missing secondary containment, illegal wastewater connections, issues with storm drains, or improperly maintained oil-water separators. Partnership specialists can offer advice on where to recycle or dispose of hazardous materials and how to meet local and state regulatory requirements, and can follow up with additional information.
The 35 pollution prevention specialists with the partnership work for their local governments, but the program is coordinated through Ecology. This allows the specialists to share resources, education, and materials, and to coordinate outreach to different industry sectors, while still offering local jurisdictions the flexibility to focus on local priorities. Local governments enter into interagency agreements with Ecology to meet performance criteria for site visits, data reporting, and staff training.
Results to Date:
- The partnership’s pollution prevention specialists conduct nearly 6,000 small business site visits each biennium.
- In 2013-15, Local Source Control specialists visited businesses in 96 different industry sectors.
- Specialists found problems at 75% of the small businesses visited, and helped resolve approximately 4,900 environmental threats.
- Only 23% of the businesses still had issues unresolved at the end of the 2013-2015 biennium. Most businesses resolve issues found by local source control specialists.