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Suit targets oil leaks from Columbia, Snake dams

Published on December 31, 1969 3:01AM

Last changed on September 9, 2013 6:49AM

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- An environmental group has filed a lawsuit alleging that hydroelectric dams are illegally leaking and spilling oil into the Columbia and Snake rivers.

Columbia Riverkeeper filed the suit Wednesday against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in federal courts in Oregon and Washington.

The oil has come from dams including Bonneville, The Dalles, John Day and Ice Harbor, the conservation group said.

The agency has violated the Clean Water Act over the last seven years by discharging oil without a permit, the suit alleges.

It seeks a declaration that the corps has violated the act and injunctions requiring it to stop releasing pollutants and to evaluate and fix environmental damage.

The Corps of Engineers did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

The group alleged dozens of oil spills and chronic oil leaks.

Among them, the group said, were 1,500 gallons of transformer oil containing carcinogenic PCBs from the Ice Harbor dam on the Snake in 2011 to 2012.

"While the government banned the manufacture of PCBs decades ago, the PCBs are still showing up in oil coming from the Corps' dams," Columbia Riverkeeper executive director Brett VandenHeuvel said in a statement.

Because it has discharged oil without a permit, VandenHeuvel said, the corps "has skirted the law" and failed to "monitor and report pollution in a manner that enables the public to fully understand the extent and severity of the problem."


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