PCC Natural Markets: A tenfold increase in cancer risk is not acceptable

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PCC Natural Markets, the iconic Seattle-based food market, called out the state Department of Ecology in their comments on new proposed water quality standards:

A tenfold increase in cancer risk (and the additional increase in allowable risk from PCBs) is not acceptable.

The comments came in a letter from Eli Penberthy of PCC’s public affairs department. He points out that increasing the cancer risk in the standards does harm to local business:

Our ability to offer fish and shellfish harvested from Washington waters depends on knowing those foods are safe to eat. Without improved water quality standards, our business and the local fishermen we support will be impacted.

Fishing and shellfishing are huge parts of the state’s economy:

Washington’s maritime industry is a crucial part of our economy, generating $30 billion in revenue each year and about 148,000 jobs. Fishing and seafood processing account for nearly 60 percent of that revenue, according to a 2013 report supported by the Puget Sound Regional Council and the Economic Development Council of Seattle. PCC sold more than 300,000 pounds – totaling $4.4 million in sales – of seafood last year, including Washington shellfish and groundfish.

Some people like to say making better water quality standards is bad for business. That just isn’t’ true:

I know you face pushback from big businesses against tighter standards that would force them to improve stormwater and wastewater treatment, but this draft plan would place zero burden on polluters and all of the burden on local commercial and recreational fishermen, their customers, and fish consumers. This cannot be considered progress…

Washington should follow in Oregon’s footsteps and write protective water quality standards:

The only appropriate action at this time is to establish stronger water quality standards that truly are protective of human health, as the state of Oregon has done already. Clean water is vitally important to the health of our communities and a sustainable local economy. We have long had among the weakest standards in the nation, and now is the time for positive change.

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