• Gonzaga Law School: Barbieri Courtroom (map)
  • 721 North Cincinnati Street
  • Spokane, WA, 99202
  • United States

GU Law and the Spokane Riverkeeper to Hold Community Forum About Local Water Pollutants

Spokane, Wash. — On April 17, 2019, members of the local community will have an opportunity to hear from a panel of experts about the recently discovered water contamination in Airway Heights. This community forum has been co-organized by the Spokane Riverkeeper and the Environmental Law and Land Use Clinic at Gonzaga Law School.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, are used to make coatings and products resistant to oil and water, or to reduce friction. They have many industrial applications and are used to make certain types of firefighting foams. In recent years, PFAS contamination above EPA's health advisory level has been found in drinking water wells in Airway Heights, North Whidbey Island, Issaquah, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and at hundreds of other military bases where firefighting foams were used. Chemicals in the foam have reportedly seeped into water in and around those bases.

Because mounting research links these chemicals with a host of health problems, including kidney, testicular, bladder, and prostate cancer, as well as immune, reproductive, and hormonal dysfunction, the contamination amounts to a “seminal public health challenge,” as Patrick Breysse, director of the Centers for Disease Control’s National Center for Environmental Health, recently described it.

The panel will include:

·         Rhonda Kaetzel, ATSDR Regional Director

·         Kevin Anderson, P.E., CPM Director of Public Works | City of Airway Heights

·         Carina Wells, Campaign Organizer, Toxic-Free Future

·         Kara Steward, PFAS Chemical Action Plan Coordinator

·         Dorothy Tibbits, MS, MPH Regional Manager, Eastern Region Office of Drinking Water Washington State Department of Health

Representatives from Fairchild Air Force Base declined the opportunity to participate in the form.

The program will run from 6:00 – 8:00 P.M. in the law school’s Barbieri Courtroom. For questions, please contact Kevin Carr at Gonzaga Law School at 509-313-3771.