Columbia Riverkeeper Reveals Army Corps’ Dirty Secret: Chronic Oil Pollution Seeping from Columbia & Snake River Dams

Oil & Salmon Don't Mix

Oil pollution spilling and leaking from hydroelectric dams on the Columbia and Snake River is a chronic problem. Riverkeeper discovered the long-term illegal pollution from dams, and on July 31, 2013, filed a lawsuit to hold the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) accountable for its pollution problem. The Corps has a history of both acute spills and chronic leaks of oil and other pollution from dams including Bonneville, The Dalles, John Day, and Ice Harbor. Read press release.

An aerial view of oil sheens on the Columbia River following a 2004 oil spill at The Dalles Dam. Photo from Andy Carlson, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Riverkeeper’s lawsuit describes dozens of oil spills and chronic oil leaks at the dams. For example, in 2011 and 2012 the Corps reported discharging over 1,500 gallons of PCB-laden transformer oil at the Ice Harbor Dam on the Snake River. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, PCBs cause cancer, as well as a variety of other adverse health effects on the immune system, reproductive system, nervous system, and endocrine system. The oil from the Ice Harbor spill contained PCBs at levels 14,000,000% greater than state and federal chronic water quality standards.

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In the News:

Columbia Riverkeeper sues U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for pollutant infractions. The Oregonian. July 31, 2013.

Columbia Riverkeeper sues over dams' pollution. The Columbian. July 31, 2013.