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.

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Anna King

When you think organic, you probably visualize fresh, sweet-smelling fruits and vegetables. But what makes that delicious organic produce grow?

The answer is digested fish parts mixed with molasses, which smells so bad that it’s been known to make farm workers gag.

Governor's Office

Gov. Jay Inslee got an up-close view of the drilling machines at work on the damaged Wanapum Dam in central Washington Wednesday, just one day after officials announced the dam’s massive crack was caused by fundamental design errors and bad concrete pours in 1960.

EPA

With the weather warming up, work has resuming at one of the largest Superfund sites in the nation. The EPA is trying to clear decades of mine pollution from Idaho's Coeur d'Alene River Basin and the upper reaches of the Spokane River. And this summer, managers are using an environmental remedy you might not expect: pavement.

Grant County PUD

A host of problems caused the massive crack in Wanapum Dam on the Columbia River, the Grant County Public Utility District said Tuesday.

Northwest sweet cherry growers say they'll likely pick 20 million boxes full — their third largest haul ever — this season. But there’s plenty that can happen to cherries before then, even on the day of harvest.

Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Utah grow about two-thirds of the nation’s sweet cherries. And this year, demand should be even higher for those candy-like fruit as a result of the dismal cherry growing weather in California. The continuing drought in that state and poor pollination has thinned out their crops. 

Tobin Fricke / Flickr

The clock is ticking on the 40-day, 40-night compromise deadline between Washington state and the federal government for cleaning up Hanford’s leaking radioactive waste tanks.

But at Hanford’s annual update for the public in Richland this week, it was clear that any agreement between the state and the federal government is still a ways off.

Anna King

We’ve all heard of the Western Gold Rush. But how about the Northwest cattle rush?

Farmers in our region are taking advantage of record prices worldwide for dairy and beef. And on the front lines of this Northwest herd expansion is your friendly artificial insemination technician. So when you douse milk on your morning cereal, think of guys like Dean Hibbs.

Hibbs has been on breakneck drive to breed more cattle and hasn’t had a day off in weeks. He says cows in heat wait for no man.

Ed Andrieski / AP Photo

Farmers in eastern Washington who want to get into the marijuana business may face an immediate hurdle.

The U.S. government is currently deciding whether it will give growers access to federal water. The agricultural heart of the state depends on these irrigation systems. 

Grant County PUD

The cost fixing the cracked Wanapum Dam will total $61 million, according to Grant County PUD officials.

About one-third of the cost is the result of the investigation into the crack, the guarding of the river and the loss of power production. The rest will cover the fix itself.

Anna King

Hundreds of Chinook salmon are being rounded up and loaded into tanker trucks that will drive them around the cracked Wanapum Dam in southweast Washington.

The Columbia River will remain drawn down at least until June, which means fish can’t reach their traditional ladders. Engineers are working on extensions and water slides of sorts to get fish ladders working again. But work to install this new equipment has been difficult, with cranes, man baskets and the whipping wind.

 

Many Northwest alfalfa growers had a rough year with bad weather last summer. Rain can leach nutrients out of drying hay and rot away any profits. 

But this year, hay markets are primed if growers can duck the storm clouds. Drought in California and parts of the Midwest means hay buyers are focusing in on Northwest crops. 

The drawdown of water behind the cracked Wanapum Dam in central Washington is exposing dozens of human gravesites and hundreds of Native American cultural artifacts. Grant County officials are working overtime to protect these sensitive sites, but that work isn’t cheap.

Grant County utility district says it’s spending about $600,000 per month protecting 80 miles of Columbia River shore.

Central Washington University

Code language is probably as old as language itself. Now, two Northwest professors have launched a competition to test students’ code-breaking skills.

Called Kryptos, the competition is geared toward undergraduate students all around the Northwest. But the region’s high school students are also encouraged to try and break the codes.

Northwest asparagus growers are just starting to harvest spears in the warmer sites around Pasco. The green points are the first crop harvested in spring.

Anna King

For one resort community in central Washington, this summer could be a bust. A crack in the Wanapum Dam there has forced operators to draw down the Columbia River more than 25 feet, leaving boat docks hundreds of feet from the water.

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.

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