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Lawsuit Planned Over Lack Of Pollution Discharge Permit For USFWS’ Leavenworth Hatchery
Posted on Friday, July 24, 2015 (PST)

Conservationists have announced plans to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to have a pollution discharge permit for the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery in central Washington.


The Center for Environmental Law and Policy and the Wild Fish Conservancy sent a 60-day notice of intent to sue to the Service this week, claiming that the hatchery is discharging pollutants into Icicle Creek without a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, a violation of the Clean Water Act.


The plaintiffs contend that the Service has not had a permit for the hatchery since Aug. 31, 1979.


“Federal law requires the hatchery to operate in a manner that protects Icicle Creek and downstream waters from pollution,” said Dan Von Seggern, staff attorney for CELP. “Compliance with the Clean Water Act will preserve these water resources while allowing the hatchery to continue to augment salmon runs.”


Hatchery Manager Dave Carie said he cannot comment on any pending litigation against the Service.


Amanda Smith, a public affairs officer with the Service based in Portland, said she also could not comment, and she declined to say why the hatchery has not had a pollution discharge permit for 35 years.


The plaintiffs maintain that pollutants released from the hatchery into Icicle Creek include disease control chemicals, pathogens, nitrogen, phosphorus, antibiotics, chemicals used for disinfection, residual chemical reagents and salt and chlorinated the water.


Phosphorus loading, they add, contributes to violations of water quality standards in the Wenatchee River, which has a confluence with Icicle Creek about three miles downstream from the hatchery.


“Over the past 15 years we have worked with local citizens and representatives of state, federal and tribal agencies to try to get the Leavenworth Hatchery to comply with state and federal law to protect and restore native fish species listed under the Endangered Species Act and to restore the integrity of the Icicle Creek ecosystem,” said Kurt Beardslee, executive director of Wild Fish Conservancy. “It is discouraging to realize that yet again the hatchery blatantly disregards its legal obligation and the needs of the Icicle Creek ecosystem. The saddest part of this is the public is unknowingly paying for it.”


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