Anna King

Richland Correspondent

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.

The South Sound was her girlhood backyard and she knows its rocky beaches, mountain trails and cities well. She left the west side to attend Washington State University and spent an additional two years studying language and culture in Italy.

While not on the job, Anna enjoys trail running, clam digging, hiking and wine tasting with friends. She's most at peace on top a Northwest mountain with her husband Andy Plymale and their muddy Aussie-dog Poa.

Ways To Connect

Photo courtesy of Grant County PUD.

High winds on the Columbia River are hampering forensic work on the damaged Wanapum Dam in southeast Washington. Workers first noticed a giant crack in the structure over a month ago. Investigators are trying to figure out just how bad it is and how to fix it.

AP Photo

Gov. Jay Inslee and state Attorney General Bob Ferguson complained Monday that the federal government will likely miss major deadlines for cleanup at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

They want the feds to stick to agreed upon deadlines and are demanding new tanks to replace the leaking old ones. But the feds say they, too, have a plan.

Anna King

Two skeletons found upstream of the cracked Wanapum Dam have been handed over to Northwest tribes.

The remains were found near each other several weeks ago along the newly-exposed Columbia River shore.

U.S. Department of Energy

The state of Washington has ordered the federal government to pump out a leaking double-shell tank of waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

The state says pumping must begin by Sept. 1.

Anna King

Dam engineers are working to determine the severity of the crack in the Wanapum Dam’s spillway.

But the drawdown of the spillway to relieve pressure on the ailing structure is having some real consequences for the region’s farmers, tourism hubs and Northwest tribes.

AP Photo

The ongoing issue with the cracked Wanapum Dam in central Washington is now creating problems for migrating salmon. The drawdown of water between Wanapum and Rock Island dams to relieve pressure on the crack is the roadblock.

Anna King

State officials and farmers are scrambling to save orchards at risk of drying as a result of the drawdown of the Columbia River. The drawdown is due to major cracks found on the Wanapum Dam.        

Anna King

A second set of human remains have been found near the cracked Wanapum Dam on the Columbia River in eastern Washington, according to state officials.

The remains were found about 500 yards downstream from the first set of remains found last week near Crescent Bar.

The first set belongs to a Native American man and could be very old. The second skeleton is also Native American, but its gender is not yet known. Whatever the case, some locals hope to avoid what happened with the discovery of the Kennewick Man.

Anna King

Thousands of acres of high-value cherry and apple orchards behind the damaged Wanapum Dam are at serious risk in eastern Washington.

It turns out farmers don't have long enough straws to pump out of the Columbia River now that the water has been lowered there to stabilize the dam.

U.S. Senate

In Washington, D.C. Tuesday, Hanford whistleblowers Donna Busche and Walt Tamosaitis weren’t allowed to speak before a Senate hearing.

The former nuclear site workers had been informally invited to testify before the Homeland Security subcommittee, but that invitation was later blocked by the ranking minority Republican on the committee.

Anna King

 

Grant County officials and Native Americans are patrolling round the clock to keep sacred and sensitive sites protected on miles of exposed Columbia River shoreline.

The drawdown of water behind the damaged Wanapum Dam and the nearby Rock Island dam has exposed lots of rocky shoals. But new-found bones are churning up old questions.

Tom Banse

Teams of engineers are scrambling to figure out what’s gone wrong with the Wanapum Dam on the Columbia River near Vantage.

The dam’s problem is on a structure called the ogee, a big piece of concrete anchored to the bottom of the river. It’s like a river speed bump; it has a big curve on the top where the water flows over it. When the spillway gate is lifted, the water flows through from the upriver side of the dam to the downriver side over this ogee.

AP Photo/Grant County Public Utility

Human bones were found along Central Washington's newly-exposed shore above Wanapum Dam on the Columbia River late Tuesday. Grant County PUD officials are drawing down the pool above Wanapum because of a crack found in the structure.

The bones were discovered in an area called Crescent Bar upriver from Wanapum Dam.

AP Photo/Grant County Public Utility

Water behind the Wanapum Dam near Vantage is being drawn down 26 feet to relieve pressure on the big crack in the structure. Officials say dozens of engineers are on site, and more around the country are studying the problem.

When it comes to the many underground tanks at Hanford filled with radioactive sludge, just how much do we know? U.S. Senator Ron Wyden says not enough.

Joseph B. Frazier / AP Photo

The Northwest wine industry and the region’s grapevines are both getting older.

Many of the distinct wine grape-growing regions are now celebrating 30 years since the federal government recognized them as distinct growing areas also known as “appellations.” And Walla Walla will be the next to celebrate the milestone birthday.

Anna King

A prominent whistleblower who raised safety concerns at the nation's most polluted nuclear weapons production site has been fired from her job at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

Safety manager Donna Busche says employer URS Corp. told her she was being fired for “unprofessional conduct,” then escorted her out of the building early Tuesday.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Washington winemakers are hitting the road in an effort to court upwardly mobile city dwellers while they’re still developing their taste for wine. And they’re taking their show on the road in increasingly flashy style.

Susan Walsh / AP Photo

U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings will retire at the end of the year, he announced Thursday.

Political watchers are already speculating on who might run to replace the long-time representative. The district is considered strongly Republican, so a Democratic upset is unlikely.

Hastings served two decades as south-central Washington’s Republican congressman. 

“I turned 73 last Friday, and one more term, I would have been nearly 76, so I just thought this was the right time,” he said.

The close proximity of a group of mountains known as The Rattles to the the Tri-Cities in southeast Washington, means urban dwellers can hike a 1,500 foot peak and enjoy dramatic views on their lunch break -- or even after supper.

Amos Morgan / Washington State University

Washington State University’s viticulture and enology’s facility won’t open in the Tri-Cities until next spring, but students aren’t waiting to bottle and sell their own wines.

And, with the help of local winemakers, they’ve already sold out of their first release.

Courtesy of Meier Architecture Engineering

Southeast Washington is getting an economic boost. Two announcements made Wednesday are expected to lead to new jobs in the area. 

The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is building a $10 million facility in north Richland, near the rest of the lab’s campus. The facility will house research on the power grid's reliability, renewable energy and greater energy efficiency in buildings.

AP Photo

  

Over the last several years, Hanford Nuclear Reservation managers have mishandled barrels and boxes of hazardous and radioactive waste in the central part of the southeast Washington site.

The state of Washington last Friday slapped the U.S. Department of Energy with a $15,000 fine.

AP Photo

About 300 workers who were told they'd be laid off can now keep their jobs at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. 

Because Congress approved the 2014 federal budget for 2014 last week, layoffs announced last year can be avoided.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

A federal contractor at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation failed to check some single-shell radioactive waste tanks for the buildup of hydrogen gas. It was an eight-month lapse that could have been dangerous for workers and the public.

Federal contractor Washington River Protection Solutions says some of the radioactive waste tanks should have been checked as far back as last March, and weren’t. The overdue tanks were checked in late December, and no gas buildups were found.

AP Photo

Leaders of the Yakama Nation in central Washington say they see little benefit to sales or farming of legalized marijuana on their traditional lands. And the tribes are making moves to prevent anyone from operating a pot business on an area that adds up to one-fifth of the state’s land mass.

Courtesy of Spike TV.

A new cable reality show features rugged Northwesterners tromping through the region’s beautiful landscapes in search of Sasquatch.

Spike TV threw together big-game hunters, dedicated Big Foot aficionados called “squatchers” and animal-loving pro photographers. The new eight-week reality show on SpikeTV is called “10 Million Dollar Big Foot Bounty,” and comes, as the name suggests, with a $10 million prize. It premiers Friday.

Courtesy of Dry Fly Distilling in Spokane, Washington.

A Hood River distillery has the top-selling brand of liquor, according to sales numbers released by the state of Oregon. But other craft distillers say those hot numbers don’t reflect their experience.

Before liquor sales were privatized in Washington state in mid-2012, small local distilleries were featured in state-owned shops there and throughout the Northwest. Now, top craft distillers say national brands are hogging the shelf space in Washington, the biggest market in the region.

Courtesy of Brook Brouwer with Washington State University.

When you think of Northwest wheat, you might picture the rolling golden fields of eastern Washington. But it used to be that a lot of grain was grown west of the Cascades, and it may soon grow here again.

Investors, policy makers and farmers are leading an effort to bring grain back to western Washington, Oregon and British Columbia.

Anna King

Monday is a big day for Mexican-American bakeries across the Northwest. It’s Three Kings Day or the Epiphany, a Christian celebration of the day the magi came bearing gifts for Jesus. 

At Viera’s Bakery in Pasco, workers were hustling in preparation for a traditionally busy day.

“I think it’s one of the main days of all year that we sell a lot of bread,” said Alejandro Vacscez, who works at the bakery.

Pages