Another Settlement Reached Over Columbia And Snake River Dams Leaking Oil
Operators at Chief Joseph Dam in eastern Washington will now have to reduce pollution from oil spills that leak into the Columbia River. That’s after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently reached a settlement with Columbia Riverkeeper.
The environmental group has sued dam operators along the Columbia and Snake rivers. They hope to reduce oil spills, require operators to monitor how much oil is leaking into the water and ask dam managers to look into using eco-friendly oil. Unlike conventional oil used to lubricate dam turbines, this newer type of oil would break down more naturally and would be less harmful to aquatic life.
Lauren Goldberg with Columbia Riverkeeper said there have been large releases of oil at Ice Harbor and Lower Monumental dams on the Snake and The Dalles on the Columbia that were reported by the U.S. Army Corps. She said there are also smaller chronic leaks that often go undetected.
“Every year, hydroelectric dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers leak large quantities of oil,” Golberg said. “Sometimes there are leaks of hundreds of gallons of oil, sometimes over a thousand gallons of oil.”
Goldberg said oil spills will happen more often as dams age.
“Overall, oil pollution is bad for clean water. It’s bad for salmon. It’s bad for other aquatic life,” Goldberg said. “People swim in the Columbia River. People eat fish caught in the Columbia River.”
Columbia Riverkeeper has also settled lawsuits to stop oil leaks at nine other Northwest dams, including Bonneville, The Dalles, Ice Harbor and Grand Coulee. The settlements require The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to obtain permits that will restrict oil pollution.
Several public utility districts that operate dams in the mid-Columbia are also applying for clean water act permits, Goldberg said.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.
A new energy storage project is in the works near eastern Washington’s Chief Joseph Dam on the Columbia River. The project is expected to bring construction jobs to the region. But the nearby Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation worry it would harm important cultural areas. Continue Reading New Energy Storage Project On Upper Columbia Brings Jobs — And Concerns From Colville Tribes
A federal appeals court ruled Friday that the Environmental Protection Agency must do more to protect Columbia basin salmon and steelhead from dangerously warm river temperatures. Continue Reading Federal 9th Circuit Court Orders More Action To Protect Salmon And Steelhead In Columbia Basin
The U.S. House voted on Monday to pay compensation to the tribe for its losses when Grand Coulee Dam was built in the 1930s and 1940s. Continue Reading U.S. House And Senate Pass Bills To Compensate Spokane Tribe For Losses From Grand Coulee Dam