PORTLAND-- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Monday that, for the first time, it will notify groups and the government of pollutants its dams release into the Columbia and Snake Rivers. The change is part of a settlement reached by the Corps and the group Columbia Riverkeeper, which filed suit against the Corps last year.

The suit accused the Corps of violating the Clean Water Act by not reporting oil and other discharges from its eight hydroelectric dams on the two rivers. The settlement also requires the Corps to file for permits with the Environmental Protection Agency before any planned discharges for the first time.

The Corps argued that disclosing the mechanical workings of the dam as part of an oil-discharge summary could compromise the dams' security. Attorneys for Columbia Riverkeeper alleged the Corps had been polluting the rivers for years without having to answer for it or announce what was discharged and its potential effects on the environment.

The Corps said it will immediately begin notifying Columbia Riverkeeper of any spills.

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