Suit targets oil leaks from Columbia, Snake dams

Owyhee River
Lake Billy Shaw on the Duck Valley Indian Reservation on the Idaho-Nevada border, was built with federal money in 1998 to help mitigate the loss of salmon on the Owyhee River caused by dams on the Snake and Columbia rivers. (AP Photo/John Miller)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An environmental group has filed a lawsuit alleging that hydroelectric dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers are illegally polluting water.

Columbia Riverkeeper filed the suit Wednesday against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in federal courts in Oregon and Washington. The conservation group says acute spills and chronic leaks of oil have occurred at dams including Bonneville, The Dalles, John Day and Ice Harbor.

Columbia Riverkeeper director Brett VandenHeuvel says in a statement that the river is a treasure and should be protected from oil pollution.

The lawsuit seeks a declaration that the corps has violated the Clean Water Act along with injunctions requiring the corps to stop releasing pollutants and to evaluate and fix environmental damage.

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

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