Yakama tribe pulls out of cleanup council

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As reported by AP - Also The Oregonian reports additional details.

YAKIMA, Wash. (Map, News) -
The Yakama Nation is pulling out of a natural resources council that aids Oregon and federal officials with planning cleanup of the contaminated Portland harbor.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality are overseeing cleanup along the six-mile-long Portland harbor, where sediments in the lower Willamette River have shown high levels of metals, pesticides and other hazardous substances.

But any cleanup settlement should include the Columbia River as well, because the Willamette flows into the Columbia and its toxins pose a threat to fish in the Columbia River as well, Yakama Nation Tribal Council Chairman Ralph Sampson said.

The Yakamas have treaty rights to salmon and other fish in the Columbia River. Of particular concern to the Yakama tribe are juvenile salmon traveling the last 100 miles to the ocean from the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers.
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The tribe said in a letter to other trustees Friday it was withdrawing from the council because other trustees do not agree it's important to include the Columbia. The letter said the tribe would pursue natural resource damage remedies "on its own."

Council trustees include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and six tribal governments, including the Grand Ronde, Nez Perce, Siletz, Umatilla and Warm Springs.

An EPA spokesman did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment Tuesday.

Jim Anderson of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality said a preliminary investigation of the nature and extent of the Willamette River contamination should be completed later this summer.

A draft feasibility study, which will include the range of options for cleaning up areas of potential concern, should be completed in summer 2010, he said.
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