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

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.

Anna King

‘Tis the season for the drone of cheery Christmas music. You’re even bombarded with it at the gym. It’s easy to get stressed out or even blue during the holidays. But at a small Presbyterian church in Richland, one pastor has been trying to spread a little solace with an unusual exhibit.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission

There’s a new debate raging over the Northwest’s only commercial nuclear power plant. It’s not about safety or how to dispose of nuclear waste, but about dollars and cents.

A new report asks whether the Columbia Generating Station pencils out for the region. But the facility’s owners are fighting back with their own numbers.

AP Photo

A plan to turn part of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation into a national park has been dropped from a compromise defense authorization bill moving through the U.S. Congress.

The idea is to designate Hanford’s B Reactor as part of the Manhattan Project National Park, along with sites at Los Alamos, New Mexico and Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Northwest mental health experts are cautiously optimistic about a new federal grant program. But they call it a modest attempt to improve mental health care in rural areas.

The Obama administration announced Tuesday, the federal Department of Agriculture’s plans to spend up to $50 million over the next three years.

Associated Press

There is a new whistleblower at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington, but it doesn’t have to do with technical concerns.

It’s the latest twist in an ongoing timecard fraud case.

Anna King

Northwest wine grape growers expect this week’s very cold weather to do some damage to their vineyards. But it’s not clear yet how much of next year’s fruit might be affected.

Deep cold on wine vines isn’t good, but several factors determine just how bad it is. There’s the cold itself, and how long it lasts. There’s the elevation, colder air tends to settle in lower valleys. Then, there’s the variety of grape—is it German-tough or less cold-hardy Mediterranean?

Anna King

The region’s cold snap has many dairy operators and ranchers taking extra care with their livestock. When it’s cold, cattle and other types of livestock tend to eat more to stay warm.

Despite the low temperatures intensified by a slight wind in central Washington, Len McIrvin’s Herford cattle just lowed at his passing pickup. They’re munching on what’s left in a harvested cornfield a few miles from the Columbia River.

Anna King

A massive load of oil equipment is on its way to Canada, along a winding route that began near Hermiston, in northeast Oregon. Protesters tried to stop the shipment by getting in the way, but the so-called megaload rumbled forward on its journey through Oregon and Idaho.

About two dozen protesters held signs and blew horns while police kept them away from the truck and trailer. The megaload takes up two lanes and stretches 380 feet. 

Associated Press

Three federal contractors at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation say they’ll lay off 450 workers over the next year. The companies say Thursday’s announcement is largely due to federal budget uncertainty.

The three companies work on Hanford’s tank farms cleaning up contaminated groundwater and providing support services at the nuclear site. Many of the 450 workers will be let go in the next few months, and the others will be laid off by next fall.

Associated Press

Managers and scientists are working against the clock to solve a new possible problem at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

How much sludge can be dumped into a double-shelled radioactive waste tank before flammable gas might build up in a big bubble?

At a group of waste tanks called the C-Farm, workers are pumping the radioactive sludge out these old single-shelled tanks into the more stable double-hulled ones This radioactive witch’s brew constantly generates hydrogen and other flammable gases.

Photo courtesy of the Washington Apple Commission.

Washington’s agricultural crops rose 6 percent in 2012 from the previous year, according to federal bean counters.

A recent USDA report say agricultural products reached nearly $10 billion. Some of the products that saw rapid growth in Washington include dry edible beans, barley, and apples.

Anna King

A dried-out 3-mile-stretch of creek in central Washington will soon swell again with water. It’s part of a project near Ellensburg to pipe irrigation water from the Yakima River to keep water in the creek for salmon and steelhead.

Anna King

When a Columbia River steelhead completes its epic journey from ocean to spawning grounds, it’s usually too exhausted to go downriver again. Often, the fish just dies. But the Yakama Nation is changing that circle of life.

Tribal biologists have created a rehabilitation center that helps steelhead recover so they can spawn again in the future. And the Yakama fish spa is seeing more success.

Associated Press

The U.S. Department of Energy faces a $115,000 fine for the way a contractor handled asbestos at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington.

The alleged violations occurred during building demolitions in 2009 and 2010 when federal stimulus money sped up deconstruction projects.

Rajah Bose

In early November, a federal appeals court will consider the case of a well-known Hanford whistleblower. Walter Tamosaitis argues his career was essentially killed after he voiced safety concerns at the nuclear cleanup site.

Earlier this month, the high-level manager was laid off for good. It wasn’t retaliation according to the federal contractor that employed him. But U.S. senators and watchdog groups fear this turn will make other workers with safety concerns clam up.

Tamosaitis has had, as he puts it, a lot of stomach acid these past couple of weeks.

Anna King

From the lush valleys north of Seattle to the orchards of the Columbia Basin, to the rolling fields between Spokane and Walla Walla, the state of Washington grows about 300 types of crops.

Ask any of those farmers about Initiative 522, and you’ll get every kind of answer. If passed this November, it would require labeling of genetically modified foods. The initiative would not ban GMOs, as they’re known, but it could have a big impact on Washington agriculture.

AP Photo

State officials say they’re disappointed but not surprised by news that the federal government will likely miss several more cleanup deadlines at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

At Hanford, radioactive sludge stews in aging underground tanks not far from the Columbia River. A 1989 agreement created the timeline for treating that caustic gunk. But the task has proven extremely difficult. A Waste Treatment Plant has been plagued by whistleblowers, critical federal investigations, cost overruns, and delays. 

Anna King

Northwest farmers are wrapping up this year’s hop harvest at a time when the craft beer industry is seeing huge growth. The change in Americans’ beer-drinking habits means hop farmers are selling more of their crop to smaller breweries than ever before. But all this success begs the question: is there a craft brew bubble?

Artist rendering courtesy of Washington State University.

Dignitaries and leaders of the Northwest wine industry braved a drizzle Thursday for a ceremonial groundbreaking at Washington State University’s new Wine Science Center in the Tri-Cities. 

There are now nearly 800 licensed wineries in the state of Washington, up from about 40 three decades ago.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

A new proposal to phase-in portions of cleanup at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is an intriguing idea, but it doesn’t solve immediate problems of leaking waste tanks, said Gov. Jay Inslee during a visit Thursday.

The Democrat was responding to a new plan this week from U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. 

Courtesy of the U.S. Department of Energy.

Fifty years ago today, President John F. Kennedy stepped off a Marine helicopter into the dry heat of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington.

He was there to see the massive new N Reactor. The reactor was the first to produce both plutonium and power in the U.S. The visit was also part of Kennedy’s efforts to de-escalate the Cold War.

Ted S. Warrena / Associated Press

There’s a new plan for cleanup at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The federal government is looking for ways to process certain types of radioactive waste more quickly, while managers there figure out how to solve major technical challenges at its massive Waste Treatment Plant.

U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz released the new framework Tuesday after a year of study.

WSK_2005 / Flickr

Some fish in the Columbia River aren’t safe to eat, according to advisories issued Monday by health officials in Washington and Oregon.

The warnings do not apply to ocean-going fish like salmon and steelhead.

Washington State University will lead a new federal research center focused on finding new biofuels for jet airplanes.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., made the announcement Friday at the university’s new science labs in the Tri-Cities.