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NFC: Fw: [currents] RiverCurrents for the Week of April 28, 2000




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River News for the Week of April 28, 2000

COLORADO RIVER: Plateau Resources, a Wyoming company that owns the
Shootaring Canyon mill near Lake Powell, has offered to reopen its
facility
as an destination option for the 10 million tons of radioactive tailings
at
the Atlas uranium mill site along the Colorado River near Moab, UT.  As
reports the Salt Lake Deseret News (4/24), "the move would also eliminate
the need for the construction of a disposal site for the radioactive
waste,
and it would eliminate the costs associated with monitoring a new waste
 dump" - a potential $300 million bill. The deal would require that the
Nuclear Regulatory Commission amend their Shootaring Canyon's license to
allow them to accept the Atlas waste tailings, which environmentalists
fear
is a backdoor attempt by the company to allow them to take the tailings
for
reprocessing. The company has kept its Shootaring Canyon mill on standby
status at a cost of about $1 million a year in hopes of a rebound in
uranium
prices.

Also concerning the Colorado River, the states of Arizona and California
and
the Quechan tribe have gone to the Supreme Court to dispute rights to
Colorado River water. The tribe is asking for nearly 1% of the water
currently divided among Nevada, Arizona, and California to use on its
Fort
Yuma Reservation, under irrigation water rights from a 1893 treaty. The
states, on the other hand, say those rights were given up in 1983 in
exchange for a $15 million settlement over land and water issues. As
reports
the Arizona Daily Star (4/25), the Supreme Court will decide whether a
"special master" should handle the tribe's claim, with a decision
expected
by the end of June.

     *     *     *

MONTANA WATER QUALITY: Montana State Auditor Mark O'Keefe (D) has
promised
to strengthen and enforce Montana state water quality laws if elected.
Claiming that the state has some of the lowest water-quality standards in
the nation, O'Keefe says that a clean environment is one of Montana's
strongest assets. As reports the Billings Gazette (4/25), O'Keefe says he
will "direct the state Department of Environmental Quality to strictly
enforce and monitor compliance of water-quality standards and work with
the
Board of Environmental Review to ensure that laws and rules designed to
keep
Montana's waters clean are interpreted to mean precisely that: no further
pollution in the waters of the state."

     *     *     *

HUDSON AND HOUSATONIC RIVERS: General Electric is being asked by
environmental and religious groups to report how much it has has spent on
environmental cleanup of the Hudson and Housatonic rivers as compared to
public relations projects, reports the AP (4/25). Asking General Electric
stockholders this week to vote to reveal the figure, the groups are
asking
the company to reveal how much it has spent on actual cleanup, as opposed
to
lobbying and public relations projects to improve its image. The company
says it has met every state and federal requirement on the Hudson, and
reports regularly to the state and federal agencies on their cleanup work
and research.

     *     *     *

MAINE DAMS: The Great Northern Paper Company will stop operating six dams
on
northern Maine waterways later this year, resulting in dramatic changes
in
the water level. The company has announced it will not operate its dams
at
Nesowadnehunk, Harrington, Loon and Penobscot lakes along with Dole and
Long
ponds, located in remote areas of northwestern Maine, reports the Bangor
Daily News (4/26). The dams had historically been operated to keep water
levels lower in the spring and higher in the summer. Fishermen are
concerned
about the effect on their favorite fishing holes, reports the News. The
company is choosing to stop operation of the dams, rather than pay the
estimated $1.8 million relicensing cost, though it has not decided
whether
to sell or abandon the dams.

     *     *     *

ENDANGERED SPECIES: The Montana Rivers Coalition has given formal notice
that it will sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to force the agency
to
decide whether the sicklefin chub and the sturgeon chub should be added
to
the federal endangered species list. Both fish, native to the Missouri
River, are endangered by pending federal legislation that would transfer
ownership of the Intake Diversion Dam on the lower Yellowstone River from
the federal government to four irrigation districts, reports the Omahao
World-Herald (4/24). The legislation could allow the transfer without
requiring the dam to be repaired, causing the endangered fish and others
to
be sucked down the irrigation canal.

If the fish were listed, the agencies would have to take their needs into
account in river operations, he said. And the chubs may have different
needs
than the existing listed species, meaning potential differences in
operations for the river. This move comes as the US Corps of Engineers is
revising the Missouri River Master Manual, its guidebook for managing
dams
and flows on the river. Recently the agency put their effort on hold
while
they consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concerning the
impact
of its river management on endangered species.

     *     *     *

PATUXENT RIVER: In the wake of a massive oil spill on the Patuxent River
in
Maryland, state officials are saying that it is again safe to consume
fish,
crabs and shellfish from the river, reports the PR Newswire (4/24). The
Maryland Department of the Environment says that there might still be
patchy
distributions of oil in the sediment or other areas that could
contaminate
the shellfish, and that individual animals that spell of the petroleum
should be returned to the water.

     *     *     *

NORTHWEST SALMON RECOVERY: Clark County in Washington State, the state of
Washington, and PacifiCorp are purchasing the 258-acre Eagle Island in
the
North Fork of the Lewis River for $972,000 in an effort to protect salmon
spawning grounds. As reports the Columbian (4/25), the area is critical
rearing habitat for the last viable run of wild fall chinook in the
Columbia
River system below Hanford Reach. The project to purchase the island led
the
list of $40 million in land deals and construction projects targeted by
state officials.

     *     *     *

 RIO GRANDE: To avoid an immediate showdown with environmental groups
over
how to sustain the Rio Grande silvery minnow, an endangered species, the
federal government has agreed to give a judge at least three weeks notice
before allowing the Rio Grande to go dry this summer. As reports the
Sante
Fe New Mexican (4/25), lawyers for the government informed U.S. Judge
James
Parker that "they shouldn't be forced to respond to the environmental
groups' request for a court order to force the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to release enough water to keep the
Rio
Grande silvery minnow alive." Instead, the judge has been given an extra
three weeks to hold a hearing on whether to force the federal agencies to
release water from dams on the river system. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service had designated a 160-mile stretch of Rio Grande downstream from
Cochiti Lake as habitat for the minnow, a designation that
environmentalists
say means the Corps cannot allow the river to run dry, killing the
minnows.

     *     *     *

WHITE RIVER: The US EPA and the state of Indiana have each sued the Guide
Corp. and Crown Environmental Group Inc. this week claiming that the
companies are responsible for the largest fish kills in the history of
the
state of Indiana. 117 tons of fish were killed along the White River due
to
alleged overuse of chemicals by the companies, despite their knowledge of
the potential for harm. The companies also filed inaccurate logs
concerning
the use of the chemicals. The suits seek tens of millions of dollars in
penalties, reports the Indianapolis Star (4/28). As reports the Star,
"one
of the state lawsuit's opening paragraphs suggests Guide's choice to
treat
heavily-contaminated wastewaters set into a motion a predictable reaction
of
events leading to the massive fish kill in the White River, which was
completely preventable." Indiana Gov. Frank O'Bannon is planning a
restocking program for the river.

     *     *     *

JOB DESCRIPTION: American Rivers, Inc., the nation's leading river
conservation organization, employs a staff of 45 in its Washington, DC
headquarters and field offices in Washington, Arizona, Montana, Nebraska,
Iowa, Tennessee and Maine.  For an overview of the organization, please
see
www.americanrivers.org. American Rivers is seeking a press and
publications
deputy to work in our DC office.

Duties include
 Working with media team and conservation staff to coordinate national
and
regional media campaigns publicizing river conservation
 Writing and editing press materials, a quarterly newsletter, the annual
Most Endangered Rivers report, and promotional materials
 Handling logistics of press events
 Responding to media requests

Qualifications, 1-3 years experience in public
relations/communications/media field, strong writing, editing, and
research
skills along with ability to juggle multiple projects in fast paced
environment, interest in conservation a must.  Great benefits, salary
dependant on experience.

Please send resume, cover letter and writing sample to Director of
Administration, attn: press hire, American Rivers, 1025 Vermont Ave NW,
suite 720.  Washington, DC 20005 or email: wsisson at amrivers_org.  No
Phone
Calls Please.

PREVIEW OUR NEW SITE!! American Rivers is preparing to launch a new web
site
designed to serve the community and resource needs of river
restorationists
across the country. But we need your input to ensure this new site meets
your needs!! Please take a moment to visit
http://amrivers.actioni.net/defaultnew.asp to test drive our new features
and leave your feedback. Respondents will automatically be included in a
raffle of fun prizes, including five $100 gift certificates for outdoor
gear
from altrec.com and 25 American River T-shirts!

==============

For more news, please visit us at www.amrivers.org



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