Power Company Faces CWA Suit in Oregon

On Monday, Columbia Riverkeeper filed a citizen suit against defendants Perennial Power Holdings, Inc. and Perennial-WindChaser, LLC (collectively Perennial) for discharging pollutants into the Columbia River Basin without a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit in violation of the Clean Water Act (CWA). Riverkeeper seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, the imposition of civil penalties, and the award of its costs.

The complaint states that after exhausting the requisite administrative remedies, the plaintiff filed the lawsuit on behalf of itself and its members to rectify harm wrought by Perennial’s supposedly illegal discharge from its Perennial Wind Chaser Station, a gas-fired combustion turbine generator facility located in Hermiston, Oregon. The plaintiff states that it is a Washington state non-profit organization, and its mission is “to restore and protect the water quality of the Columbia River and all life connected to it, from the headwaters to the Pacific Ocean.”

According to the filing, Perennial’s construction of the Perennial Wind Chaser Station is subject to the NPDES permit requirements. The plaintiff claims that the project has and will generate discharges of stormwater related to construction activity, including clearing, grading, and excavation. The construction complained of allegedly began on or about September 21.

The filing charges Perennial with neither submitting a complete and current application to the relevant authority, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), nor obtaining any other NPDES permit coverage for its stormwater discharges. The plaintiff contends that the discharge, which occurs every time one-tenth of an inch of rain or more falls within a 24 hour period, pollutes the Umatilla River, the Columbia River, and Westland A Canal degrading the environment and the water quality of the basin.

The plaintiff seeks an order declaring the defendant to be in violation of the CWA, requiring it to remediate the environmental damage and ongoing impacts resulting from its pollutant discharges, to pay penalties, and to provide Riverkeeper with copies of the paperwork Perennial submits to or receives from state or federal authorities regarding the discharge of pollutants from its site.

Columbia Riverkeeper is represented by Kampmeier & Knutsen PLLC and its own counsel.