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For Immediate Release, July 30, 2012

Contact:   Brent Foster, Attorney at Law, (541) 380-1334
Noah Greenwald, Center for Biological Diversity, (503) 484-7495

Lawsuit Launched Over Alleged Violations of Clean Water Act by Massive Waterfront Development

HOOD RIVER, Ore.— Conservation groups including the Northwest Environmental Defense Center, the Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of the Hood River Waterfront today filed their second formal notice of intent to sue development company NBW Hood River, which is owned by developer Robert Naito, over a massive development on the Hood River waterfront, including a controversial hotel, commercial building and wakeboarding park. 

The notice alleges numerous violations of NBW Hood River’s state pollution permit related to its handling of construction fill materials now being stored at the site. The case will also challenge the fact that the proposed commercial building would be built in the Columbia River despite the fact that NBW Hood River has no current application for the federal Clean Water Act permits required for such development.

“Poor practices on the proposed development site are leading to pollution of important salmon habitat in the Columbia River,” said Linda Maddox, with Friends of the Hood River Waterfront. “Their permit requires that they mulch or seed any stockpiles of dirt left on site, yet we have watched for well over a year as these piles expand in number and just sit there totally exposed next to the river. Moreover, the little sediment fence they have is very often down because they’ve put it below the ordinary water level where it’s useless in preventing pollution from their piles from reaching the river.”

NBW Hood River is seeking to build a sprawling waterfront development that includes a 45,000-square-foot Hampton Inn, 20,000 square feet of commercial space and a 230-space parking lot. The development company also wants to build a motorized wakeboarding park that would include large crane-like structures and a network of metal cables in a section of the Columbia River known as the “boat basin.” This is the first such project planned in Oregon’s waters. In addition to affecting 11 runs of threatened and endangered species, including chinook salmon and steelhead, the 10-acre wakeboard facility, which would be regulated under the state’s amusement-park regulations, would shut out kayakers, windsurfers, triathlon swimmers and standup paddle boarders who currently use the area.

“The Columbia River generally, and this area specifically, has real importance for salmon — if there was ever a place where federal water-pollution laws needed to be followed, this is it,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Building this sprawling development will harm salmon and the Hood River waterfront.” 

On July 10, Friends and the Center filed a notice of intent to sue Naito’s development company and the city of Hood River for violating the Endangered Species Act by planning and approving a development that will unlawfully harm endangered salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River.

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