Ecology Hires New Air Quality Staff at ERO

Brian Prisock has been hired as the Air Operating Permit Manager (replacing Brenda Smits who left in September 2017 for a new position at DOH).  He has been working in the Air Quality Program for a little over 3 years, most recently as an Emissions Inventory and Compliance Coordinator.  Prior to joining Ecology in 2014, Brian worked for Idaho DEQ for 13 years.

Jason Cocke has been hired as Air Operating Permit Compliance Specialist for Eastern Region (replacing Holly Cushman who left in September 2017 to join the Peace Corps).  Jason comes from the Toxics Clean-up Program (ERO), where he spent the past 13 years working as an Underground Storage Tank Inspector.

Brian and Jason will both start in their new positions on February 16th.

Spokane Stage 1 Burn Ban Lifted Effective Immediately

Effective Immediately: The ban on outdoor burning and the use of uncertified wood stoves, inserts and fireplaces has been lifted.

Spokane Clean Air issued the restrictions last Friday, coinciding with an air stagnation issued by the National Weather Service. Althought the air stagnation remains in place, air quality has remained in the good to moderate range, therefore Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency is lifting the burn ban.

Spokane Clean Air thanks everyone for their cooperation during burn restrictions. Be sure to follow the clean burning techniques, including using only dry seasoned wood and providing plenty of air to your fire. Your efforts help our air quality

Spokane State 1 Burn Ban Effective TODAY at 4 p.m.

A ban on outdoor burning in Spokane County and the use of uncertified wood stoves, inserts and fireplaces in the Spokane County Smoke Control Zone begins at 4 p.m. today (Dec. 8). The ban will last at least through the weekend and until further notice.


Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency is calling the Stage 1, condition “Yellow” burn ban because weather conditions are 

contributing to a build-up of wood smoke. 

Under a Stage 1 “yellow” burn restriction:

  • The use of uncertified wood stoves, fireplaces, inserts and other uncertified wood-burning devices is prohibited unless they are a home’s only adequate source of heat.
  • Certified wood stoves, pellet stoves and other certified wood-burning devices are allowed.
  • All outdoor burning is banned in Spokane County.

This temporary ban is due to increasing levels of smoke and stagnant weather conditions.


*If you don’t have an adequate source of heat, contact Spokane Clean Air for an exemption.  Click here for details.

Electronic Submission of Injury and Illness Records

Establishments with 250 or more employees in industries covered by the recordkeeping regulation must submit information from their 2016 Form 300A to OSHA by December 15, 2017. These same employers will be required to submit information from all 2017 forms (300A, 300, and 301) by July 1, 2018. Beginning in 2019 and every year thereafter, the information must be submitted by March 2.

Establishments with 20-249 employees in certain high-risk industries must submit information from their 2016 Form 300A to OSHA by December 15, 2017 and their 2017 Form 300A by July 1, 2018. Beginning in 2019 and every year thereafter, the information must be submitted by March 2.

See for more information on electronic reporting, the final rule, and the “Injury Tracking Application”.

Note: Washington State has not adopted rulemaking on electronic reporting yet, so this rule does not apply to establishments in Washington State.

Fuel Emission Waiver Amid Fears Of Shortages

The Washington Examiner (8/31, Siciliano) reports that the EPA expanded its fuel emission waiver to Washington DC and 38 states in the East and Midwest on Thursday to ease the flow of existing supplies of gasoline into the market in the aftermath of fuel disruptions caused by Hurricane Harvey. The decision was made after reports the Colonial Pipeline, which “delivers a big chunk of the eastern seaboard’s gasoline supply from the Gulf Coast to New York City”, would be shut down due to the number of large refineries closed because of flooding. Reuters (8/31, Gardner) reports that the waiver will last through Sept. 15 for most states. The EPA and Energy Department said they will “take other steps if extreme and unusual supply crunches hit other areas.”

State covered under the waiver to-date are:  Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia,  Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico,  New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Spokane AQI Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups

Smoke from wildfires burning to the north is affecting air quality in the Spokane area, prompting officials from Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) and Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency (Spokane Clean Air) to remind residents to take precautions to protect their health.

As of this morning, the air quality monitors in Spokane are reporting levels of fine particulate matter pollution in the “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” or “Orange” category of the Air Quality Index (AQI).

Spokane Clean Air’s air quality forecaster says winds from the north and northeast are transporting wildfire smoke to our area from the various regional wildfires. A strong high pressure ridge will remain over the region well into next week, bringing generally light winds and continued high temperatures and abundant smoke-filtered sunshine. Air quality will worsen at night as smoke concentrates in valleys and improve slightly in the afternoon with increased wind speeds and mixing of the atmosphere.

The smoke is likely to remain with us into next week. Clearing the smoke from the region will require a change in the weather pattern with winds from the west or southwest. Such a change is not expected for at least the next several days.

“Depending on the wind and wildfire activity, the Air Quality Index may fluctuate between Moderate (yellow) and Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups (orange) today and Thursday,” according to Stephanie May, public information specialist for Spokane Clean Air.

See  for more information.

EPA Declares Outdoor Burn Ban for Yakama Nation

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is declaring a ban on all outdoor open burning on the Yakama Reservation due to stagnant air conditions and elevated air pollution, effective noon, August 2, 2017 through Monday August 7, 2017 unless extended.

The burn ban applies to all outdoor and agricultural burning—including camping and recreational fires—in all areas within existing reservation boundaries regardless of ownership or tribal membership. Ceremonial and traditional fires are exempt from the burn ban. For areas outside reservation boundaries, please contact your local clean air agency, fire department, or the Washington State Department of Ecology.  EPA requests that reservation residents reduce all sources of air pollution as much as possible, including excess driving and idling of vehicles.

Air pollution can seriously harm your health. Community-wide cooperation during the ban will help people who are most at risk, including children, the elderly, pregnant women, people with asthma or difficulty breathing, diabetes, heart problems or whose breathing is otherwise compromised. Those sensitive groups should avoid outdoor exercise and minimize exposure to outdoor pollution as much as possible. Under the most severe pollution levels all residents should restrict their activities.

To check conditions now in your area, go to

For current burn ban status, please visit, the tribal air quality office, or the EPA at 1-800-424-4372, or by email:

Find more information online, go to

Spokane PE Addresses the Ethical Challenges of Autonomous Vehicles and Driver and Pedestrian Safety

Autonomous VehiclesBeth Hodgson, P.E., and her staff at Spring Environmental Inc. in Spokane, Washington, developed a PowerPoint presentation (with embedded sound) to show how an engineer’s ethical obligation is to advise the risk assessment team in ways that maintain public welfare overall. This presentation garnered them a win in the 2017 Milton F. Lunch Ethics Contest. (See Winning Entry-2017 with audio.) Hodgson’s team members included Julianne Gehlen, Amy Hooper, John Quinn, E.I.T., Jenelle R. P. Scott, P.E., Gabriel Sedbery, E.I.T., and Elizabeth Speare, E.I.T.

This ethical dilemma was just one of four situations for which NSPE members could test their knowledge of engineering ethics against other experienced PEs and engineering students. The contest was revamped this year to allow for more creative ways for participants to show off their ethics know-how. Contestants could choose one of four different situations dealing with the ethics of engineers, demonstrating their understanding of the facts and the NSPE Code of Ethics for Engineers through an essay, video, photo essay, poster, or PowerPoint presentation.

Contestants were asked to read the facts of the case, then develop a discussion and conclusion to respond to the included question(s). They were required to provide references, citing specific sections of the NSPE Code of Ethics for Engineers. Hodgson and her team will receive a certificate, recognition in PE magazine, and an award of $1,000.

The entries were judged by the following criteria:

  • Quality of the entry in form and presentation. Clarity, composition, expression, etc. are important. The essay, video, photo essay, poster, or PowerPoint should be a finished piece and “ready to go.”
  • Demonstration of understanding the implications concerning ethical or unethical behavior.
  • Comprehensive analysis of the case and arguments supporting conclusions. This may include new thoughts or other expressions.

SPCC Enforcement at a Hotmix Asphalt Operation

Mitchell Williams Selig Gates & Woodyard PLLC

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and Frank W. Whitcomb Construction Corporation (“Whitcomb”) of Colchester, VT entered into a June 22nd addressing alleged violations of the Clean Water Act Oil Pollution Prevention regulations including:

  • Plan not certified by a professional engineer;
  • No management approval of plan;
  • Plan not maintained on site or not available for review;
  • No evidence of 5 year review of plan by owner/operator;
  • No plan amendments if the facility has had a change in: design, construction, operation, or maintenance which affects the facility’s discharge potential;
  • Plan does not follow sequence of the rule and/or cross reference not provided;
  • Plan has inadequate or no facility diagram;
  • Inadequate or no description of drainage controls;
  • No inspection records available for review;
  • Training records not maintained for 3 years;
  • Dike water is not inspected prior to discharge and/or valves not open and resealed under responsible supervision;
  • Causes of leaks resulting in accumulations of oil in dike areas are not promptly corrected;
  • Vehicle traffic is not warned of aboveground piping or other oil transfer operations.

The Agreement assesses a civil penalty of $3,100.

EPA and USACE Rescinds WOTUS Rule

EPA and USACE Rescinds WOTUS Rule

Foley & Lardner LLP

On Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) announced a proposal to strike the 2015 “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) regulation, which had expanded the number of U.S. waterways subject to federal review for pollution control purposes.

Before the 2015 WOTUS regulation, the 1972 Clean Water Act applied primarily to “navigable” bodies of water. With the 2015 WOTUS rulemaking, the Obama administration expanded the permitting requirements of the Clean Water Act to ditches, streams, and many additional non-navigable waters, outside the original scope of the Clean Water Act.

A formal notice and comment rulemaking is required for the administration to revise the definition of waters of the United States.