Puyallup Tribe to sue over spill in river, harm to salmon

SEATTLE (AP) — The Puyallup Tribe has notified Electron Hydro that the tribe intends to file a lawsuit over ongoing violations of the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act because of fish-killing operations of the Electron Dam and pollution of the Puyallup River.

The Puyallup Tribe of Indians has for years opposed the Electron Dam, a known killer of salmon, including chinook, The Seattle Times reported.

In August, it came to light that the dam owners in July used artificial turf in a construction project at the dam without a permit. The river shredded pieces of the turf, carrying it and crumb rubber downriver over 40 miles (64 kilometers) to Commencement Bay.

Now the owners of the dam intend to place a new rock dam in the river, which the tribe also has notified the company it will go to court to stop.

Sylvia Miller, vice chairperson of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, said the tribe is outraged by the pollution caused by the turf spill and is concerned for the salmon, the animals and the spiritual cleansing sought by people in the high mountain waters of the river. The Puyallup flows from the glaciered slopes of Mount Rainier.

“The tribe is at a point where we will do whatever we have to, to protect those lands and waters; we will take every dime if we have to,” Miller said.

Chris Spens, director of regulatory and environmental affairs for Electron Hydro LLC, declined to comment on the tribe’s notices of intent to sue.

Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier has called for working with the Puyallup Tribe to get the dam taken out.

The dam has the capacity to power up to 20,000 homes but its actual generation varies.

Puget Sound Energy, which owned the 116-year old dam before selling it in 2014, in September put the company on notice of its intent to sue to cancel its power sales agreement if Electron Hydro can’t meet legal and environmental standards at the project.

Spens has stated the company wants to continue to operate the facility and complete repairs to bring the dam into environmental compliance.