Do we Pacific Northwesterners love our Columbia River. Or not? Considering recent evidence, it's hard to tell.
A Taiwan-based shipping company would argue that we do indeed love our river. In April, it was announced that Evergreen International S.A. will pay a whopping $25 million fine for concealing the deliberate and illegal discharge of waste oil in five waterways, including the Columbia River.
You go, Environmental Protection Agency. Sock it to 'em.
And let's remember the powerful deterrent effect that's burrowing through the international shipping industry. The message is clear: If you discharge waste oil and sludge through bypass equipment, if you forge your oil records books or if you destroy a bypass pipe prior to inspection, the U.S. Coast Guard is coming after you, and in its wake is the EPA with a cadre of convincing attorneys who are brandishing their $25 million trophy fine.
On the other hand, maybe we don't love our Columbia River. For the second time in a year, raw sewage washed ashore in April at Frenchman's Bar Riverfront Park west of Vancouver. The waste included a syringe that was found on a sandy slope near the volleyball courts.
There's a strong suspicion that the sewage originated in Portland, where an antiquated waste disposal system routinely allows sewage to flow into the Willamette River during heavy rains.
Portland city officials have said they're unsure if the city is the source of the problems at Frenchman's Bar.
We wish Portland speedy progress on a current $1.4 billion project designed to solve the sewage-overflow problem. Perhaps its completion will help us and the rest of the world decide if we love our river. Or not.
- The Columbian, Vancouver, Wash.