Columbia Riverkeeper, Army Corps
by Wendy Culverwell
Eight dams on the Columbia-Snake river system will get extra scrutiny under terms to settle a suit that alleged the dams were leaking oil and other pollutants into the waterway.
The Columbia Riverkeeper sued in U.S. District Courts for Oregon, Western Washington and Eastern Washington. It alleged the eight dams operated by the Army Corps violate the Clean Water Act by discharging mechanical lubricants and other pollutants.
The suits covered four Snake River dams (Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose and Lower Granite) and four Columbia River ones (McNary, John Day, The Dalles and Bonneville). The dams generate energy and provide water for agriculture.
Brett VandenHeuvel, executive director of Columbia Riverkeeper, called the agreement a groundbreaking development with the potential to influence dam operations throughout the country.
"For years, the Army Corps has "For years, the Army Corps has allowed harmful oil pollution to flow into the Columbia and Snake Rivers, and finally that will stop. With the dams coming into compliance with the Clean Water Act, we will see an end to toxic discharges and chronic seepage of pollutants that have been harming our communities," he said in a written statement.
Under the settlement agreement, the Corps will apply to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for Clean Water permits, reduce potential pollution by using biodegradable lubricants that meet environmental standards, develop an oil accountability plan and pay $143,500 to the plaintiffs.
The suit was filed on behalf of Lauren Goldberg, the Hood River-based Columbia Riverkeeper, represented by Brian Alan Knutsen of Smith & Lowney PLLC, a Seattle law firm.
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