Tribes seek higher toxicity standards on Columbia
The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality disagree over how to calculate toxicity standards...
BOARDMAN, Ore. — The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality disagree over how to calculate toxicity standards for the Columbia River and are meeting today to try to sort out their differences.
The tribes say their greater consumption of fish should be taken into account when setting toxicity standards for the river.
The human-health criterion adopted by the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission last May increased the presumed daily fish-consumption rate from 0.2 ounces to 0.6 ounces for the general population, based on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines.
A state advisory committee concluded in May that any of four consumption rates, from 0.6 ounces a day to 13.7 ounces a day, could be used. The state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) then proposed the 0.6-ounce level and opened the issue for public comment.
The Umatilla say the standard should be higher to protect tribal members.
"The tribes have a scientific study that determines how much fish tribal people eat, not just the Umatilla tribes," said Rick George, who directs the tribes' environmental planning program.
"It shows they eat 20 to 25 times the fish that is the rate set by the DEQ."
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