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Environmental group sues Idaho prison over pollution claims

| August 19, 2020 11:59 AM

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Idaho Department of Correction is being sued in federal court by an environmental group that says a north-central Idaho prison is dumping pollution into the waterways that feed the Snake River.

The Idaho Department of Correction has not yet filed a response to the lawsuit, and department officials didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Snake River Waterkeeper filed the lawsuit in Idaho's U.S. District Court last week, contending that effluent from the Northern Idaho Correctional Institution in Cottonwood is flowing into Lawyer Creek, the Clearwater River and the Snake River in amounts that violate the agency's federal permits.

The environmental group doesn't say in the lawsuit exactly what the effluent contains, but alleges the state violated its permit for the wastewater more than 160 times in 2018 and 2019.

Snake River Waterkeeper is asking a judge to order the state to stop violating its federal discharge permits. The organization is also asking that IDOC be ordered to pay civil penalties of up to $55,800 for each violation of the Clean Water Act on every day the violations allegedly occurred — an amount that could total nearly $9 million.