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Army Corps is sued for oil leaks into Columbia River

Columbia Riverkeeper is suing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, charging it is allowing “both acute spills and chronic leaks of oil and other pollution” from dams, including those at Bonneville, The Dalles and John Day.

The Hood River-based advocacy group filed a federal lawsuit July 31, alleging the oil leaks have violated the Clean Water Act for the past seven years.

Columbia Riverkeeper’s lawsuit describes dozens of oil spills, including reports of the Army Corps discharging more than 1,500 gallons of PCB-laden transformer oil at a Snake River dam in 2011 and 2012.

“PCBs are highly toxic and don’t go away,” says Brett VandenHeuvel, Columbia Riverkeeper executive director.  “While the government banned the manufacture of PCBs decades ago, the PCBs are still showing up in oil coming from the Corps’ dams.  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 Army Corps could not be immediately reached for comment.