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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: California | Environment & Forest Defense
Buffett's PacifiCorp Plans to Apply Toxins to Klamath River Despite Massive Opposition
Community petition to PacifiCorp and California receives 2000 signatures in first week
Eureka, California-Recently Warren Buffett's PacifiCorp quietly submitted a plan to apply toxins for the second year to Klamath River reservoirs as an algae killing experiment. River users, including fisherman and Native American Tribes, unanimously oppose this action citing last year’s studies that show killing the algae actually releases the algae toxin, microcystin at a time of year when people are in the Klamath River. The opposition has been so strong that a petition opposing the experiments has gained up to 500 signatures a day.
Some river advocates, such as the Hoopa Valley Tribe, say PacifiCorp should start planning for dam removal to deal with the algae. PacifiCorp has publicly stated they support dam removal. PacifiCorp has countered that a proposed dam removal agreement gives them the authority to experimentally use chemicals in the Klamath reservoirs. Other signers of the agreement have disagreed, and one even invoked a dispute resolution process. State agencies have stated that regardless of the outcome the impacted public will not have a chance to comment.
“Studies show that PacifiCorp’s reservoirs create one of the worst toxic algae problems in the world,” stated Leonard Masten, chairman of the Hoopa Valley Tribe. “PacifiCorp has stated they want to remove their dams for economic reasons, and has collected ratepayer money to do it, yet they are stalling dam removal by falsely saying they need legislation. They expose our communities to toxins while they stall the very Clean Water Act processes that are necessary to plan for dam removal and regulate water pollution.”
Levels of microcystin have consistently been up to 3000 times over the World Health Organization limits for recreation contact. This has led to the entire river below the reservoirs has been declared a health hazard every late summer for the past five years. Tribal ceremonial leaders, recreationalist, and salmon fishermen are angry that they cannot use the river safely. Studies, commissioned through the Klamath dam relicensing process have proven the reservoirs create the algae problem and so far only dam removal has been suggested as an effective solution.
PacifiCorp’s proposal is part of an experiment proposed under interim measures of the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA). The KHSA is tied to Klamath water sharing legislation that died in the last Congress. Last year PacifiCorp did not give any notification of the chemical use to river users, nor did they initiate public comment. Other parties to the KHSA oppose the algaecide use and cite last year’s report on algaecide use as proof that the treatment is dangerous and ineffective. This has led to claims the stalled out agreements have essentially made the Klamath a corporately controlled river.
“PacifiCorp can simply make the business decision to remove the dams as they have with other dams they own. The promise of legislation has led to an air of lawlessness on one of the Nation’s most important salmon producing rivers,” stated Regina Chichizola, of the Hoopa Valley Tribe. “It is time to implement the key measures of the dam removal proposal, and begin Clean Water Act processes needed for dam removal to proceed. Dam removal does not require legislation."
More than a hundred Klamath River Tribal members traveled to Sacramento last July to ask California Water agencies to make PacifiCorp deal with their pollution under the Clean Water Act.
Chichizola said PacifiCorp used chemicals in the river soon after with no public notification or input in violation of the Clean Water Act and California law. She said this year Tribes are hoping to bring even more people to Sacramento, and hopeful California will not only deny the chemical plan, but will also vote against exempting PacifiCorp from the Clean Water Act processes for the eighth year in a row.
Petitions and action trainings have been planned to address Clean Water issues around the Klamath dams and chemical use. Information and petitions related to this proposal and Klamath Dam removal can be found at Save The Klamath-Trinity Salmon on facebook, at Change.org, at http://www.change.org/petitions/warren-buffett-s-pacificorp-cancel-plans-to-use-algaecides-in-the-klamath-do-your-401-cert, or at http://hoopa-nsn.gov/ or on the Klamath River twitter page @KlamathTrinity.