"This settlement is an important win for clean water. Oil pollution threatens salmon, drinking water, and the public’s right to a healthy Columbia. The Army Corps is not above the law and will finally address oil pollution from Chief Joseph Dam,” -Lauren Goldberg, Columbia Riverkeeper.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Columbia Riverkeeper, Army Corps Settle Lawsuit Over Oil Pollution from Chief Joseph Dam
November 25, 2019 (Bridgeport, Wash.)—Columbia Riverkeeper (Riverkeeper) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) reached a settlement in a lawsuit challenging illegal oil pollution from the Army Corps’ Chief Joseph Dam, located on the Columbia River. Under the settlement, the Army Corps agreed to comply with the Clean Water Act and reduce oil pollution from its hydroelectric dam.
"This settlement is an important win for clean water. Oil pollution threatens salmon, drinking water, and the public’s right to a healthy Columbia. The Army Corps is not above the law and will finally address oil pollution from Chief Joseph Dam,” stated Lauren Goldberg, Legal and Program Director for Columbia Riverkeeper.
Dams routinely discharge oil and other pollution to the Columbia River, which threaten fish, wildlife, and the people that rely on locally-caught fish. Pollution discharge permits required under the settlement will require that the Army Corps monitor and reduce the amount of pollution entering the Columbia. The Army Corps also agreed to investigate switching from conventional oils to less harmful “environmentally acceptable lubricants.”
The settlement builds on Riverkeeper’s previous legal victories against the Army Corps and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. In 2013, Riverkeeper sued the Corps for illegally discharging oil and other pollution from eight federal dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers without pollution permits required under the Clean Water Act. Riverkeeper brought a similar case against the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in 2016 for unlawful pollution from the Grand Coulee Dam. Riverkeeper reached settlements with both federal agencies that required the agencies to obtain permits-to-pollute and investigate using less harmful oils in dam equipment. Riverkeeper has also brought similar lawsuits against public utility districts that operate dams on the Mid-Columbia.
Columbia Riverkeeper is a nonprofit organization working to protect and restore the Columbia River and all life connected to it. Riverkeeper’s staff attorneys and Kampmeier Knutsen, PLLC represented Riverkeeper in the legal action against the Army Corps.
- Army Corps’ Offer of Judgement
- Complaint Filed Against the Army Corps Information on Riverkeeper’s lawsuit against the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation related to oil spills at Grand Coulee Dam.
- Information on Riverkeeper’s lawsuit against the Army Corps related to oil spills at eight Columbia and Snake river dams.
- Notices of Intent to Sue the Douglas County, Chelan County, and Grant County Public Utility Districts.
- Lawsuit filed against the Douglas County PUD for unpermitted discharges from Wells Dam.
- Settlement Agreement with Chelan County PUD
About Columbia Riverkeeper
Columbia Riverkeeper’s mission is to protect and restore the water quality of the Columbia River and all life connected to it, from the headwaters to the Pacific Ocean. Riverkeeper works with people in dozens of communities—rural and urban—with the same goals: protecting the health of their families and the places they love. Riverkeeper enforces environmental laws to stop illegal pollution, protects salmon habitat, and challenges harmful fossil fuel terminals. Riverkeeper is a member of Waterkeeper Alliance, the world’s fastest growing environmental movement, uniting more than 300 Waterkeeper organizations around the world.
Columbia Riverkeeper sued and forced eight large dams to reduce toxic oil pollution—a victory that the New York Times called “historic” and the Wall Street Journal called “groundbreaking.”