Unprotected dams push salmon to the brink

The Kennebec and Androscoggin rivers once teemed with salmon runs of 100,000 or more — but now almost no Atlantic salmon return to the rivers each year.

Unprotected turbines at dams along the rivers are among the leading causes of the declining salmon populations. The dams kill and injure migrating salmon when they attempt to pass through the dams’ rotating blades — akin to having fish swim through the rotating blades of a giant window fan.

To make matters worse, dam owners have refused to implement simple protection measures that have been successfully adopted elsewhere, such as installing effective devices to divert salmon from turbines.

Environment Maine sues to save the salmon

With the number of Atlantic salmon perilously low, the need for action to protect the fish and their habitat is urgent.

In early 2011, Environment Maine and Friends of Merrymeeting Bay sued multiple dam owners and operators on the rivers for failing to take simple, inexpensive measures to protect the salmon.

Since the salmon populations in both rivers are on the Endangered Species List, the dam owners’ negligence violates federal law.

This summer, in a preliminary victory, the courts rejected attempts by the power companies to dismiss the cases.


Preservation Updates

Headline

Feds send corrective order to Exxon after oil leak

“A change in direction of flow can affect the hydraulic and stress demands on the pipeline,” the order, dated Tuesday, says.

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Headline

Arkansas AG to investigate oil pipeline leak

About two dozen homes in Mayflower, in central Arkansas, were evacuated Friday as the crude oil, which originated in Canada and was bound for Gulf Coast refineries, crawled through yards and down streets spilled from a 2- or 3-inch gash in the underground Pegasus pipeline, officials have said. The evacuation could last for several more days as crews work to clean the spill.

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News Release

Exxon’s Tar Sands Oil Spill Shows Dangers of Maine Pipeline Project

Following the rupture of ExxonMobil’s Pegasus pipeline on Friday afternoon, which spilled at least 84,000 gallons of tar sands oil and forced 22 families to evacuate their homes in the small town of Mayflower, Arkansas, Environment Maine Director Emily Figdor released the following response: “This accident must be a nightmare for the families suddenly having to evacuate their homes, but it’s also a glimpse into the very real consequences we could face in Maine if the Portland-Montreal pipeline is allowed to carry the same dirty tar sands oil through our state.

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News Release | Environment Maine, Natural Resource Defense Council, 350.org

Groups Urge Canadian Energy Board to Consider Tar Sands Pipeline Impacts on New England

U.S. environmental groups formally asked Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) last week to consider the impacts of a proposed tar sands oil pipeline on New England communities. The groups weighed in as the NEB closed public input last Thursday (March 21) on the first phase of its review of a tar sands oil pipeline project in Ontario and Quebec that connects to a New England pipeline. They asked the NEB to broaden the review’s limited scope and consider not only impacts on the Canadian side of the border, but also the impacts of a tar sands oil spill on New England communities and of tar sands production and use on the global climate.

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News Release | Environment Maine, Friends of Merrymeeting Bay

Citizen Groups Seek Court Order to Save Spring Run of Endangered Atlantic Salmon

Two local conservation groups have requested a federal judge to order the temporary shutdown of turbines at four hydroelectric dams on the Kennebec and Androscoggin Rivers this spring to save thousands of out-migrating young Atlantic salmon. Without a shutdown, the endangered salmon smolts will be forced through the rapidly spinning turbine blades at each dam, where a high percentage will be killed in violation of the Endangered Species Act.  The dams involved are the Weston, Shawmut, and Lockwood dams on the Kennebec River, and Brunswick dam on the Androscoggin River.

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