Eco Group Sues Feds for Not Properly Lubricating Their Shafts (Dam Turbines)
No, we're not making this up. The latest lawsuit from Columbia Riverkeeper, a controversial environmental group, is going to make them the butt of jokes all over the Pacific Northwest.
The group is suing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for using non eco-friendly lubricants on the giant shafts that spin inside the turbines at Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia.
The turbines are like giant waterwheels, as the river flow passes through them, they spin like a centrifuge, generating tremendous amounts of electricity. But much like an engine, they require tremendous amounts of lubrication. The group claims oil and other petroleum-based lubricants leak into the river and cause pollution.
In 2014, the group settled a similar suit over eight other Columbia and Snake dams, making similar claims. However, given the amount of water being sent through the system, and the relatively small amount of oil, it's generally thought to be diffused, or broken up and poses little or no hazard to fish or wildlife.
However, the group claims it's pollution. The group, since it's inception around 2000, has a reputation for opposing economic and industrial projects, growth and economic development which they believe will cause environmental impacts. They are also firmly against the proposed coal and oil terminals on the Washington's coast that would provide thousands of jobs for economically distressed Lewis and Cowlitz Counties.
Like most environmental groups, they don't offer viable economic solutions to take the place of the projects they oppose. The Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation declined to comment on the suit, saying they are aware of it, but due to litigation, they cannot offer opinions.