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Lies about the Klamath dams drift downstream

Judging from her May 19 "Speak Your Piece" in the Record Searchlight, Siskiyou County Supervisor Marcia Armstrong has completely lost her moral compass as she navigates a losing effort to block the removal of the lower four Klamath River dams.

Armstrong cites two studies, one on the toxicity of the sediment behind the dams and another on the volume of sediment. Armstrong lifts a passages out of context but neglects to include the dioxin study's conclusion: "The studies from outside of the Klamath Basin show that the levels found in the sediments behind the Klamath dams do not appear to be problematic. ... The toxic equivalents are generally in the lower range of those noted from elsewhere and are below levels expected to cause any significant effects to fishery resource."

Furthermore the report reads: "Dioxin levels in these sediments are not alarming and since the sediments are expected to rapidly pass the Klamath system to the ocean, noticeable effects to fishery resources should not be expected from exposure to dioxins in the sediments if these dams are removed."

All of this information is detailed in an April 8, 2008, memo from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's water quality programs coordinator.

The California Coastal Commission filed a sediment study with the Federal Energy Regulator Commission in 2006 that says: "The toxicity of the sediment in the four lowermost dams is very low and will not affect method or cost of decommissioning." The document goes on to state that "sediment transport ... would be unlikely to cause flooding."

As we move closer to removal, it is important to note that more comprehensive studies will be performed and publicly reviewed in compliance with state and federal laws.

What I want to know is where was Armstrong's concerns for public health last summer when massive blooms of toxic blue-green algae behind the dams led agencies to post warnings against touching the Klamath River all the way to the river's mouth? Where was Armstrong's concern for public health when it was revealed that the resident perch in the Klamath reservoirs are too toxic to eat due to the algae toxins?

Armstrong is little more than a dam-hugging attack dog willing to go to bat for Big Energy while tribes, fishermen and business owners along the Klamath see their livelihoods and cultures suffer.

The good news is that the coalition of tribes, fishermen, small towns and farmers intent on removing the dams and fixing the river grows stronger every day. Soon Armstrong's lies will be washed out to sea by the mighty Klamath along with the dams and their (non-toxic) sediment.

Craig Tucker is the Klamath campaign coordinator for the Karuk Tribe of California.

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