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Oregonians Take to the Water for Memorial Day-A Toxic Move?

May 25, 2007

Memorial Day is the unofficial start to summer and that means Oregonians are heading to the state's rivers to boat, fish and swim, but they may not be aware of what they're diving into. Volunteers are knocking on doors this weekend to let residents know that the Willamett River may be polluted due to loopholes in state law that allow industry to dump waste at toxic concentrations.

Paul Shively, with the Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club, says people just don't realize these toxic mixing zones exist, or where they are.

"People are fishing, swimming, and recreating in a river that has these areas where toxins can be discharged at levels everybody knows are beyond the level that's deemed safe."

Shively adds, when residents learn about the problem, they want the state to act.

"It's not a partisan political issue. It's clearly across the board that people want to address this issue; they want something done."

The Oregon Senate is currently considering a bill, SB 737A, that would require monitoring those emissions and developing a plan to reduce them.

Dondrea Warner/Eric Mack, Public News Service - OR