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Columbia Riverkeeper Files Suit To Reduce Oil Pollution At Grand Coulee Dam
Posted on Friday, July 01, 2016 (PST)

Columbia Riverkeeper this week filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation aimed at reducing oil pollution from Grand Coulee Dam.


The suit calls for “finally bringing one of the nation’s biggest dams into compliance with the Clean Water Act. Grand Coulee has leaked oil into the Columbia for over 70 years—endangering public health and threatening fish and wildlife,” said the group in a press release announcing the action.


“This lawsuit will end unchecked oil pollution from Grand Coulee Dam,” stated Brett VandenHeuvel, Executive Director of Columbia Riverkeeper. “For the first time in its long history, Grand Coulee Dam must reduce toxic pollution, switch to eco-friendly oils, and disclose oil discharges to the public, if we are successful.”


In 2014, Columbia Riverkeeper settled a similar lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers aimed at oil pollution from eight dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers.


(See CBB, Aug. 8, 2014, “Corps, Conservation Group Reach Agreement On Reducing Potential Pollutants From Basin Federal Dams”


“The Grand Coulee lawsuit will push the Bureau of Reclamation to join its federal partners at the Corps to replace toxic oils at Grand Coulee with eco-friendly lubricants. For the first time in American history, the Corps is testing eco-friendly oils in large hydroelectric dams, as required by Riverkeeper’s 2014 settlement. If the tests are successful, the Corps must switch to eco-friendly oil in eight of America’s largest dams: Bonneville, The Dalles, McNary, Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose, and Lower Granite,” said Riverkeeper.


“The Grand Coulee Dam lawsuit is the next phase in the work to protect clean water and eliminate toxic pollution from dams,” stated Marc Yaggi, Executive Director of the Waterkeeper Alliance. “When the federal government fails to act to protect clean water, Columbia Riverkeeper is there to hold them accountable.” 


Columbia Riverkeeper is a nonprofit organization “working to protect and restore the Columbia River and all life connected to it.” Kampmeier & Knutsen, PLLC, and Columbia Riverkeeper staff attorneys, Lauren Goldberg and Miles Johnson, represent Riverkeeper in this action.  


Legal documents, including the complaint filed with the court, are available at

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