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Trustees Open 42-Day Public Comment Period on Draft Assessment Plan for Injured Natural Resources in Upper Columbia River, Washington


08/08/2012


Marcus Flats at river mile 705 on the Columbia River Marcus Flats, shown here, at river mile 705 on the Columbia River in Washington, marks the transition zone from a predominately higher velocity riverine system to a lower velocity reservoir system, influencing the deposition and distribution of contaminated sediments in the Upper Columbia River. Photo credit: EPA.

 

On August 8, 2012, the federal, State and tribal natural resource trustees opened a 42-day public comment period on the draft “Injury Assessment Plan for the Upper Columbia River Site, Washington.” This Draft Injury Assessment Plan describes the trustees’ proposed approach for assessing potential injury to natural resources exposed to hazardous substances released to the Upper Columbia River system.

The Upper Columbia River Site is entirely within the State of Washington and includes Lake Roosevelt and the Columbia River south of the Canada/United States border downstream to the Grand Coulee Dam and the associated wetland, riparian, floodplain, upland terrestrial and lacustrine habitats affected by historic industrial operations. Lake Roosevelt, a 133-mile long reservoir with over 600 miles of shoreline, was created following the completion of the Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River in 1942.

The natural resource trustees in this case include:

  • Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation;
  • Spokane Tribe of Indians;
  • State of Washington, represented by Washington Department of Ecology; and,
  • U.S. Department of the Interior, represented by Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Industrial activities along the River -- including smelting, fertilizer production, pulp mills and mining and milling in Canada and the United States -- have released hazardous substances to the Upper Columbia River through spills, effluent discharges and slag disposal. A provisional list of these hazardous substances, based on historical data, includes: arsenic, cadmium, copper, chromium, lead, mercury, zinc, PAHs, PCBs, dioxins, dibenzofurans, pesticides and other contaminants.

This Draft Injury Assessment Plan describes the proposed studies and other analytic steps needed to determine the nature and extent of natural resource injuries within the Upper Columbia River Site. The trustees anticipate preparing specific sampling and analysis plans which will be made public as either appendices or supplements to the Assessment Plan.

Written comment on the Draft Injury Assessment Plan must be received by the Bureau of Land Management in Spokane, Washington, by September 20, 2012.

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