A female killer whale that washed up on Washington state’s Olympic Peninsula earlier this year has been found to have off-the-charts levels of PCBs in its blubber, according to tests in federal labs. The levels were so high that the first time scientists tested the orca, their machine could not read the results and the equipment had to be recalibrated. With 1,000 parts PCBs per million parts of fat, the killer whale tested dramatically above the 58 ppm found to be common for female orcas in the most comprehensive study to date. The reading is also much higher than the concentrations of PCBs known to adversely affect the growth, reproduction, and immune system of the harbor seal, another marine mammal. Although PCBs have been banned since 1977, they are extremely persistent and continue to be found throughout the marine food chain. The radically high levels in the dead killer whale add new urgency to questions about water quality in the West Coast’s oceans and bays.