Columbia Riverkeeper suit alleges dam-based pollution
By Andy Giegerich
Digital Managing Editor
The Columbia Riverkeeper's Brett VandenHeuvel said one of the dams in the Columbia and Snake system helped enable an oil spill that dumped PCBs into the water.
The Columbia River's top environmental advocate has sued the government group it says is responsible for polluting the Columbia and Snake rivers with residue from dams.
The Columbia Riverkeeper sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for what it says it is "history of both acute spills and chronic leaks of oil and other pollution" from several dams including Bonneville, The Dalles, John Day and Ice Harbor.
“The Columbia River is a treasure and we need to stop dirty oil pollution from the dams,” said Brett VandenHeuvel, Columbia Riverkeeper’s executive director, in a release. “For years and years, the Corps has allowed oil pollution to flow into the Columbia River. There is no excuse
for a federal agency to ignore clean water laws that protect people and wildlife from dirty oil and other pollution.”
Among other charges, the Riverkeeper said during 2011 the Corps reported discharging more than 1,500 gallons of PCB-laden transformer oil at the Ice Harbor Dam on the Snake River. The oil from the
Ice Harbor spill contained PCBs at levels 14 million times greater than state and federal chronic water quality standards.
“While the government banned the manufacture of PCBs decades ago, the PCBs are still showing up in oil coming from the Corps’ dams," VandenHeuvel said. "We are very concerned about the impacts of toxic oil pollution on salmon and the families that rely on the Columbia and Snake Rivers for sustenance.”
The lawsuit said the Corps violated the Clean Water Act over the last seven years by discharging oil without a permit.
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