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Oregonians Fight Dredge Fill at Hayden Island

PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) - People who live on an island where the Columbia meets the Willamette River have sued Oregon, claiming the state's plan to dump chemical-laden dredge fill near Hayden Island will hurt wildlife, plants and the elderly people who live there. The island at the confluence of two of Oregon's major rivers is a heavily used shipping channel.

The Hayden Island Livability Project, Hayden Island Manufactured Home Community Homeowners Association and Audubon of Portland sued the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality in Multnomah County Court.

The state approved permits allowing 105,000 cubic feet of material dredged from the Willamette River, part of it from a Superfund site, to fill an area slated for development.

The associations' elderly residents say many of them have fixed incomes and limited means and mobility. They say they would live less than 1 mile from the site, and would be particularly vulnerable to zinc, lead, DDT and "other chemicals" in the fill.

Portland has considered annexing the island, perhaps to build marine terminals on 300 acres there. The city has said it would maintain 500 acres of the island as open space.

But using contaminated fill would harm "high value riparian habitat" on the island floodplain, the homeowners and environmentalists say.

They say the state did not allow adequate public participation or environmental assessment before it approved the permits.

And they say that the filled-in land should be covered, but the state has said only that it would test the soil.

The plaintiffs claim that approval of the permits violated state laws on environmental justice and solid waste.

They want the permits revoked. They are Represented by Jonathan Ostar with the Environmental Justice Law Clinic.

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