Two Oil Spills at Dalles Dam
by Zach Urness
Two oil spills from The Dalles Dam have dumped around 520 gallons of oil into the Columbia River this year.
The latest spill took place in late May, when 53 gallons spilled from one of the dam's generating units, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said in a news release Thursday.
A much larger accident occurred earlier this year, when 470 gallons of turbine oil was spilled into the Columbia from Feb. 7 to March 22.
Corps officials weren't available for comment late Thursday -- and didn't speak to the potential environmental impact. But in the press release they said:
"The Corps is dedicated to rapid spill responses and is in the process of determining the exact cause of the spill," the news release said. "Partner agencies, including National Response Center, Oregon and Washington emergency management offices and the Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission, have been notified."
The most recent spill was discovered May 31 when Corps technicians noticed fluctuations in the oil level. Officials removed the unit from service and initiated spill prevention protocols, the news release said.
"As a precautionary measure the unit was dewatered and isolated from the river," the release said.
In the accident earlier this year, a generating unit lost approximately 470 gallons of oil due to a faulty blade seal, Corps officials said. The seal was replaced, and the unit returned to service, the Corps said.
Following that incident, the Corps has been monitoring oil levels at the dam more frequently.
Columbia Riverkeeper said the Corps must do better in a statement earlier this year.
"Oil pollution from dams must stop," said Lauren Goldberg, Staff Attorney for Columbia Riverkeeper. "Shockingly, the Army Corps faces no penalties for fouling our rivers with toxic oil pollution.
"People rely on clean water and healthy salmon runs. It's past time for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Governors Inslee and Brown to protect the public and Tribal nations' rights to clean water in the Columbia Basin."
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