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Dredging -vs- Salmon In Portland's Willamette Harbor

Two Oregon environmental groups sued the federal government Friday over industrial activity in the northern end of the Willamette River.

The Audubon Society of Portland and Willamette RiverKeeper oppose a Port of Portland dredging project to deepen part of the harbor.

The Army Corps of Engineers and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have approved the project, and part of the dredging was done last year. 

Dan Rohlf with the Northwest Environmental Advocacy Center is representing the two conservation groups. He says NOAA and the Army Corps have acknowledged that the dredging will likely kill salmon. But he says the feds should factor in cumulative impacts.

Dan Rohlf:  “Each time the agencies assess a new set of adverse effects, they essentially start from an unchanged baseline of comparison. It’s very similar to going to your bank and continuing to withdraw money and not keeping track of the balance in your account.”

A spokesman for NOAA in Seattle said the agency was still reviewing the lawsuit and didn’t have an immediate comment.

The suit was filed Friday in federal district court in Portland.