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

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.

Michelle and Anna / Flickr

Washington agriculture researchers are investigating whether genetically-modified alfalfa was growing where it wasn’t supposed to. 

An Eastern Washington farmer's alfalfa has been rejected by a broker that says it found evidence of genetically modified pesticide resistance.

Photo courtesy of Kathleen Flenniken.

Washington state’s poet laureate Kathleen Flenniken has been awarded the Washington Book Award.

Flenniken’s new work of poetry, titled “Plume,” recounts her childhood in the nuclear-company town of Richland.

The tank farms at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington are cleared to resume work after a high-radiation incident briefly shut down much of the site last month.

Anna King

We’ve all been there. You’re hungry. You want something good, but there’s no time. You hit the vending machine for sugar or salt.

Two recent Washington State University graduates want to change that. They've launched an urban apple delivery service called Apple-A-Day, and it’s taking off.

Washington State University

Northwest apple growers are expecting a bumper crop this year. Harvest is already beginning on some farms, but growers are excited over an apple variety you can’t even get in stores yet.

The Hanford Nuclear Reservation has inspired documentaries, museum exhibits, art shows, and even a book of poetry.

Now, a Seattle band call Tangerine is about to release a new song that tackles the leaking tanks of radioactive waste at the federal site.

“I guess it’s a slightly unusual topic for a pop song, especially one that has a romantic angle,” said Marika Justad, who sings, plays the guitar and the piano for the alternative-pop band.

Crews at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation are investigating increased radiological readings at a tank farm there.

Part of the massive site was shut down following the reading Wednesday night.

Anna King

Wine grapes throughout the Northwest are ripening faster this year because of the hot dry summer. Vineyard managers and winemakers are preparing for a breakneck harvest over the next few weeks—that is, if it stays warm.

This year, eastern Washington had record-setting heat in July, while Oregon had consistently warm weather. Growers throughout the Northwest are hoping for cooler temperatures so the grapes don’t race to ripeness.

You may know that on a hot, sunny day, it’s better to be sitting in a white car than a black one. White reflects sunlight, while black absorbs more of it.

The same concept applies to researchers trying to figure out what effect wildfires have on climate change. And part of the answer is whether the smoke particles are dark or reflective.

U.S. Department of Energy

Washington’s state attorney is praising an appeals court decision on a nuclear waste repository in Nevada. The ruling requires the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to get the licensing process back on track for Yucca Mountain.

The state of Washington wants Yucca Mountain to be the permanent waste repository for radioactive waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. But President Barack Obama buried the project because of opposition from Nevada’s political leaders. Now, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has ruled that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has to continue forward with the licensing of the facility. 

Washington Department of Natural Resources

Torrents of mud and debris have closed three roads near Wenatchee in central Washington. The landslides were caused by thunderstorms on Sunday, along with wildfire damage.

The mudflows have hampered firefighting efforts on the Mile Post 10 fire, which has grown to 6,000 acres since Friday. Some residents and fire trucks were stranded. 

Anna King

A group of farmers in southeast Washington is trying to stop the federal government from giving endangered species protection to the White Bluffs bladderpod, a rare plant that grows on a narrow ribbon of federal land and farms.

A farmer group is using genetic tests to claim that the plant is not as rare as it seems.