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Most state permits allowing discharges into Oregon waterways expired more than five years ago, petitioners claim

Two Portland environmental groups filed suit in Multnomah County Circuit Court today against the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, challenging the legality of its water pollution permitting program in which most polluters are operating under expired permits. Petitioners say DEQ is allowing more than 75 percent of polluters to operate under expired permits.

The suit was filed by Northwest Environmental Defense Center and Northwest Environmental Advocates.

"Oregon's expired discharge permits are like zombies," said Nina Bell, executive director of Northwest Environmental Advocates, in a news release. "They last indefinitely while stalking Oregon's streams and rivers with unsafe levels of pollution. These zombie permits are based on outdated science from the last century and lack the pollution restrictions needed to protect human health and salmon from toxics and a host of other pollution effects."

The lawsuit seeks a court order demanding that DEQ issue new permits for all waterway dischargers whose permits expired more than five years ago. Petitioners say that pertains to about 140 of the 360 water discharge permits issued by the state under the Clean Water Act.

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