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Jaime Herrera Beutler Demands EPA Address Public Safety Concerns Regarding Proposed Cowlitz Casino Sewage System

Cowlitz Casino Resort seeks to inject wastewater deep underground above the Troutdale Aquifer System that supplies 99% of available drinking water to Clark County

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Washington, DC, January 20, 2016 | comments
Today Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler sent a letter to the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) demanding the agency fully address public safety concerns stemming from the proposed Cowlitz Casino sewage system.
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Today Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler sent a letter to the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) demanding the agency fully address public safety concerns stemming from the proposed Cowlitz Casino sewage system. The planned casino includes a proposal to inject millions of gallons of wastewater above the Troutdale Aquifer System that supplies 99% of the drinking water to Clark County.

Excerpts from Jaime’s letter to the EPA:
“I am writing to express my deep concerns, and those of the residents I serve, with what could be a serious potential threat to the groundwater resources of Clark County. As you know, the Cowlitz Tribe has begun preliminary construction of a mega casino and resort near La Center, Washington and has applied to the EPA for approval to use groundwater injection wells to dispose of the significant wastewater that will be generated once the resort is in operation. Your agency has applied the most rigorous standards possible to proposals much smaller in scope, so it is alarming to hear from countless residents and community stakeholders concerned that the EPA is preparing to sidestep the adequate safeguards and solicitation of public input on this mega casino’s plans to inject its sewage into the ground directly above their sole source of drinking water.”

“In August 2006, the EPA designated the Troutdale Aquifer System in Clark County, Washington a “Sole Source Aquifer.” As you know, a Sole Source Aquifer is an underground water supply designated by EPA as the sole or principal source of drinking water for an area. This aquifer lies underneath the western half of Clark County and provides approximately 99% of the available drinking water to people living in the area.”

“It is my understanding that the Tribe is requesting approval under the Authorization by Rule which would allow the construction to proceed without the normally required permits.”

“Millions of gallons of raw sewage and human waste, with potential contamination by chemicals and prescription drugs, will be generated annually. Does the agency believe the project adequately addresses water quality concerns including Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals (EDC’s), effluent standards, nitrates, disinfection by-products and various other chemicals? If so, please explain how this will be done. Furthermore, have there been thorough studies conducted on the long-term impacts on human health for such a waste treatment facility that specifically accounts for the presence of such potentially dangerous chemicals as cleaning agents and prescription drugs? Is it common for the Authority by Rule to be used for a project of the magnitude of this particular Casino and Resort, or will a permit be required? Please explain the agency’s rationale and authority for any of the above actions.”

Click here for full text of Jaime’s letter to the EPA Administrator.

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