[env-trinity] Redding.com: Tribes, Pacificorp at odds over algae in Klamath River
tstokely at att.net
Thu Jun 13 09:17:56 PDT 2013
Tribes, Pacificorp at odds over algae in Klamath River
By Alayna Shulman
Posted June 12, 2013 at 6 p.m.
AP PHOTO/JEFF BARNARD
This Aug. 21, 2009, photo shows water trickling over an algae-covered spillway at Copco 1 Dam on the Klamath River outside Hornbrook. Regional Indian tribes are at odds with PacifiCorp over a plan to kill toxic algae blooms in the Klamath River that critics say could cause a whole other pollution problem in the Northern California waterway.
Local tribes are at odds with PacifiCorp over a plan to kill toxic algae blooms in the Klamath River that critics say could cause a whole new pollution problem in the already-controversial waterway.
A petition to stop the electricity giant’s plan to kill algae in the Siskiyou County river with hydrogen peroxide-based “GreenClean Liquid” picked up some 2,000 signatures in its first week, said Regina Chichizola, a Hoopa Valley tribe member who started the protest drive.
Chichizola said she questions PacifiCorp’s study from its pilot run of the algae program that killing the blooms with the substance doesn’t produce harmful amounts of microcystin, a naturally occurring toxin.
“I feel like this shouldn’t be done on an experimental level,” Chichizola said.
Toxins in the river are problematic for both fishers and other recreation fans as well as local tribes, Chichizola said, since they use the waterway for sacred ceremonies.
But PacifiCorp says it’s “inconceivable” the plan would cause any toxicity problems.
“We think it’s, frankly, irresponsible to be raising public health concerns over something that is inconceivable — that this would cause health problems down river, in the reservoir, anywhere,” said Bob Gravely, a spokesman for the company.
Meanwhile, the Karuk Tribe has entered into a conflict resolution process with PacifiCorp over the plan, hoping to find a civil way to ease concerns it could prove toxic.
“We feel confident we’re going to work through this with PacifiCorp,” said Craig Tucker, tribe spokesman.
The Karuk Tribe even sent an in-depth letter to PacifiCorp rejecting some of the analysis from the 2012 study based on what time of day it occurred and the depth of the water, both of which can affect results, a water expert for the tribe said.
While Tucker said the data from a pilot project last year is up for interpretation, it’s still concerning that the plan includes unnatural substances.
“It’s a tough pill for tribal communities to swallow because...chemicals are inconsistent with tribal cultural beliefs,” he said.
Gravely pointed out that the 2012 study results indicated that microcystin wasn’t a problem. This year’s study would include a screen so that a more isolated pocket of water could be treated without being diluted, he said.
Nonetheless, Clayton Creager, senior scientist for the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, said the board has some worries as well and is examining the permit that allows PacifiCorp to use the algae-killer.
“We’re evaluating the status of their current permit,” he said. “It’s because we have specific concerns and we’ve received lots of complaints.”
The U.S. Department of the Interior recommended in April that four dams on the river be torn down to protect local tribes and fish species, and Chichizola said that’s a safe way to prevent algae, since much of it originates from the dams.
In 2010, Indian tribes, farmers, salmon fishermen and conservation groups signed historic agreements calling for sharing water in dry years and the removal of the four dams to open up hundreds of miles of salmon habitat shut off for a century. PacifiCorp, which owns the dams, agreed to the removal rather than pay millions of dollars for fish ladders and other improvements.
In addition to raising concerns over the algaecide plan, Chichizola blasted PacifiCorp for not soliciting public comment on the plan, despite its significance to the public.
“We’re concerned mainly with the people who are using the river, and we’re concerned with the complete lawlessness around this action,” Chichizola said, saying the plan has turned the Klamath into a “corporately controlled river.”
But Gravely said his company notified Siskiyou County officials and also ran a notice in a local newspaper.
“This has all been done as part of a very public process, and in accordance with every regulation that applies to it,” he said. “I don’t know exactly what they’re saying didn’t happen or wanted to happen...we made our required notices. We feel like we have a responsibility to address these issues.”
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