Fish safe with deep channels?

After taking a second look at deepening the Columbia River channel for bigger ships, federal scientists said Monday the project will not harm salmon and other endangered species. The findings mark a major milestone for the $196 million effort to deepen 100 miles of channel between Astoria, Ore., and Vancouver, Wash.

River ports have pressed for deepening because shipping companies are switching to bigger vessels. Opponents say saltwater could move farther up the river, killing plants and animals. After being sued by environmentalists over its 1999 approval of the project, the National Marine Fisheries Service gathered new information and developed a new computer model. The findings were reviewed by a panel of experts.

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