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Plan a First Step Toward Cleaning up Columbia

by Erik Robinson
The Columbian, May 11, 2010

EPA proposal relies on cooperation from landowners, government

A proposed Columbia River cleanup plan relies heavily on the cooperation of landowners, local governments and environmental groups to reduce toxic pollution in the great river of the West.

The Environmental Protection Agency released the proposal Monday as a first step toward reducing thousands of old and new chemicals finding their way into the 1,200-mile-long river.

It follows a report issued last year that indicated relatively high levels of four keystone pollutants: Mercury, the pesticide DDT, polychlorinated biphenyls and the modern flame retardant polybrominated diphenyl ether. The latest report lays out a blueprint for reducing human and environmental exposure to toxic pollution over the next five years.

"The federal government's spending a lot of money on salmon recovery," said Mary Lou Soscia, the EPA's Columbia River cleanup coordinator in Portland. "And there are a lot of scientists who believe we're going to have a hard time if we don't pay attention to these toxic issues."

Soscia said the working group that developed the plan figures it will cost $6 million to implement a year's worth of new actions, including increased monitoring, pesticide reduction initiatives and public education.

The work group included representatives of state and federal government, tribal governments, industries, local governments, nonprofit groups and citizens.

Soscia noted that the proposed plan forms the foundation of the Columbia River Restoration Act of 2010, proposed in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in February.

The new law would provide as much as $40 million annually to monitor pollution and clean it up.

The EPA is accepting comment on the draft action plan until June 25, and a final action plan is expected by late July. Comments can be sent to

The 2009 report is at

Related Pages:
Toxic Contaminants and Their Effects on Salmonids Morace, Johnson & Nilsen, Science Policy Exchange, 9/11/9

Erik Robinson
Plan a First Step Toward Cleaning up Columbia
The Columbian, May 11, 2010

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