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Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)

Rainier Commons PCB Removal Project, Seattle, Washington

The Rainier Commons facility, known as the “Old Rainier Brewery," is a 4.6 acre site with 24 buildings of varying ages, located at 3100 Airport Way South, Seattle, Washington. Paint containing high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) has been found on the exterior surfaces of some of the buildings. 

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Health Information

EPA collected indoor air and dust samples in 2010 from residential, office, storage and warehouse areas. Washington Department of Health (DOH), in cooperation with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), used this data to conduct a health evaluation (see link below). DOH concluded that it would be difficult for people to breathe, touch, or accidentally ingest enough dust or indoor air at Rainier Commons to cause harm to health. However, it is still a good idea to follow the Washington Department of Health’s recommendations to minimize your exposure to PCBs.

The greatest risk of exposure for tenants comes from tracking in PCBs from outside the building. The steps you can take are:

  • Keep up good housekeeping practices in your living/working space such as dusting with a damp cloth and regular vacuuming with a HEPA filtered vacuum.
  • Take off your shoes when entering your home.
  • Wash hands after contact with soils or surfaces outside the building.
  • Wash toys if they have come in contact with soils or surfaces outside the building.

Additionally, if you see water being used or discharged during the work, and/or if you see paint chips on the property, or dust escaping the scaffolding structure, please contact EPA’s PCB Coordinator, Michelle Mullin, 206-553-1616.

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Air, Paint and Dust Sampling

From June through September 2010, EPA sampled for PCBs inside the building. Paint, air and dust were sampled. Paint was sampled because it could be the source of PCBs. Air and dust were sampled, since people are likely to be exposed to them and they could contain PCBs from the paint.

Air: The air results from inside the buildings showed no threats to human health because no PCBs or barely detectable levels of PCBs were found.

Paint: Paint with PCBs above regulatory limits was found in some areas. Rainier Commons LLC conducted more sampling under EPA guidance. Rainier Commons LLC will develop a plan to remove the paint once the new sampling results are available. EPA will review and approve the plan and share it with building tenants.

Dust: Dust results showed low levels of PCBs, and it would be difficult for people to breathe or touch enough dust at Rainier Commons to cause health problems. Dust samples in homes and offices at Rainier Commons range from 1.4 to 15.6 parts per million (ppm). EPA looked at health guidelines and specific conditions at Rainier Commons when considering these results.

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Cleanup Progress

EPA approved a general work plan on December 18, 2013. Rainier Commons, LLC, will submit a specific work plan for each phase of work, to be approved by EPA, until the project is completed.

EPA, in coordination with Washington Dept. of Ecology, King County, and Seattle Public Utilities will evaluate the effectiveness of the removal and the protective measures both during and at the end of each phase. Rainier will submit a work plan to EPA for the next phase once the first phase conditions are met.

To date, Rainier Commons was approved for and completed abatement under Phase I and Phase IIa. These phases included the west side of Building 10 and 11, all of Building 13, and the south side of Building 15.

Phase IIb has been submitted to EPA and is under review.

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