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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Jason Strickling and his wife Lana of Pasco, Wash. are planning some extra time with the kids this summer. That’s because she works for a Hanford Nuclear Reservation contractor in southeast Washington and her employer is requiring her to take about five weeks of unpaid leave before September.

Every day, up to three gallons of radioactive waste at Hanford seeps into the desert sand from underground tanks, not far from the Columbia River.

That has prompted Gov. Jay Inslee to tour the remote site along with buses full of officials and media that roll through a sea of sagebrush.

Most American families have some kind of immigration lore. Think Ellis Island, the Oregon Trail and slave ships.

At dinner tables across the Northwest, some Mexican-American families tell their own vivid tales. They regale each other with stories of relatives swimming to better opportunities across the Rio Grande or crossing the desert at night.

Yes, these crossings are illegal, but they also are part of a family’s history. If the U.S. Congress adopts comprehensive immigration reform this year, these types of border stories could begin to fade.

Brittney Tatchell

For one thing, Kennewick Man – the 9,500-year-old remains found in the shallows of the Columbia River more than 16 years ago – was buff. We’re talking beefcake.

So says Doug Owsley, head of physical anthropology at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Owsley led the study of the ancient remains.

In western Michigan, there aren't enough apples to pick because bad weather decimated 85 to 90 percent of the crop. But Washington state has the opposite problem — there's an abundance of apples, but not enough pickers.

This should be the happiest, busiest time of year in Washington apple orchards. But now — just as the peak of apple harvest is coming on — Broetje Orchards manager Roger Bairstow is wincing.

Zane Brown/

High winds are challenging crews battling the Taylor Bridge fire in central Washington; and crews fighting the Trinity Ridge fire in Idaho are in a standoff with that fire, waiting for it to reach lower ground.

RICHLAND, Wash. – State regulators have fined a port-o-john operator in southeast Washington for illegally dumping raw sewage down a manhole at least five times. Some of the 50-thousand-dollars in fines will go to the city of Kennewick, which had to clean up waste that backed up into streets.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Waste in underground tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation may have much more plutonium than previously thought. That's according to a report by a Hanford contractor that's just been leaked to public radio. It's also according to the latest high profile whistleblower to raise serious concerns about a waste treatment plant being built at the Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington.

RICHLAND, Wash. – The Hanford Nuclear Reservation's tank farms in southeast Washington may have much more plutonium than earlier estimated. That's according to a report by a Hanford contractor that's just been leaked to public radio. At least one high-level Hanford official worries the findings could mean a massive waste treatment plant's design might need to be altered.

RICHLAND, Wash. – A Benton County Superior Court judge in southeast Washington has dismissed a Hanford whistleblower's case against a government contractor. That means that whistleblower, Walt Tamosaitis , will have to appeal if he wishes to keep fighting the Hanford contractor.

Police in eastern Washington are trying to figure out who has been intentionally torching haystacks near the tiny town of Mattawa.

Grant County Sheriff Tom Jones says in the last two weeks two fires burned three major haystacks to the ground. Jones says he doubts local kids have been setting the fires.

Now that a manhunt on Mt. Rainier is over, national park staff are focusing on the grief of losing one of their rangers. The man suspected of killing Margaret Anderson is 24-year-old Benjamin Colton Barnes. He was found dead Monday on the southwest slope of the mountain after a 24-hour manhunt. Lee Snook is with Mt. Rainier National Park. She says Rainier staff are relieved that the park is now secure.

Lee Snook: "Margaret was known by most everyone here at the park, and we all feel it quite personally and deeply."

A Washington State University researcher says new findings about the emotions of rats could lead to treatments for mental illness in humans. Jaak Panksepp writes in the latest issue of the journal, Science.

He was reacting to a new study showing that rats demonstrate empathy and altruism toward a fellow rat who was stuck in a trap.

A large biomass plant proposed for the Yakima area, is winning praise from supporters. But critics say this plant could pollute Eastern Washington’s air.

The 20 megawatt plant would start up in 2013 and use slash piles and other wood debris from the Yakama Indian Reservation as fuel.

Rajah Bose / Northwest News Network

Experts say mental health services for teens are especially inadequate in rural areas. That describes huge swaths of our region.

Idaho National Lab

The Idaho National Lab is monitoring 16 of its workers who were exposed to Plutonium 239. That isotope is used in nuclear weapons.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

KENNEWICK, Wash. – There’s a new lawsuit over safety issues at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The case announced Wednesday comes from the same whistleblower who has raised serious concerns about the waste treatment factory being built at the nuclear site in southeast Washington.

Workers at the Umatilla Chemical Depot in northeast Oregon have incinerated the very last of the chemical mustard agent stored there.

Northwest News Network

HERMISTON, Ore. – It's almost done. For 70 years the Umatilla Chemical Depot has stored deadly weapons of one kind or another. That very real danger has always been in the background of the nearby northeast-Oregon community of Hermiston.

But the base also provided a home for families, jobs and stability for the region’s economy, some of which will be lost after the last truckload of mustard agent roared toward the incinerator on Thursday.

Andrea Parrish / Flickr

Across the Northwest, apple growers are having a hard time bringing in their harvest because of a worker shortage. The result may mean certain lower-priced varieties of apples don’t get picked at all.

It may have started in New York, but now the Occupy movement is reaching to cities around the world and even starting up in small Northwest towns.

"Spokane, Seattle, Auburn, Portland, Salem, Yakima..."

That's Jason Caryl of Pasco. And those are just a few of the places that have started up their own Occupy movements in the Northwest. Others you might not expect are: Occupy Seaside, Oregon and Occupy Idaho Falls.

The movement has been mostly organized on Facebook and Twitter. It has been criticized for being too loose, with no clear message or demands.

More than 1,000 workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation are getting layoff notices. This latest round of downsizing started this week due to reduced federal funding in 2012.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

GOLDENDALE, Wash. – This year’s Northwest fire season has been relatively calm. But that’s little solace to the small mountain town of Goldendale, Wash. Residents there are just starting to rebuild and cleanup after a wildfire obliterated about 20 structures earlier this month .

Associated Press

RICHLAND, Wash. – The Northwest’s only commercial nuclear power plant is back on line. A six-month outage ended Tuesday, the same day that critics and supporters of the plant debated its future in Richland, Wash.

David Lytle / Flickr

RICHLAND, Wash. – Northwest wineries are working harder than ever just to keep sales flat. That's what winery owners and market experts are saying as wine lovers gather this weekend for the Columbia Valley's Catch the Crush event.

"We pay our bills," one winery owner told me. "There’s a lot of extra wine out there," said another.

RICHLAND, Wash. – The Waste Treatment Plant at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is getting more scrutiny after complaints over its safety culture. The U.S. Government Accountability Office – the investigative arm of Congress – is launching a review.

Representatives Henry Waxman of California and Diana DeGett of Colorado asked for the study. Both are members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Brian Clark / Washington State University

RICHLAND, Wash. – Washington State University is receiving its largest gift ever. The $27 million donation announced Tuesday is aimed spurring tree fruit research at WSU stations in Prosser and Wenatchee.

Anna King / KPLU

RICHLAND, Wash. – U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says turning a historic piece of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation into a National Park would be good for the Northwest economy. He made the comment during a tour of Eastern Washington this weekend.

Courtesy of contractor Bechtel

RICHLAND, Wash. – The Department of Energy says this fall they'll start large-scale testing on how to treat 56 million gallons of radioactive sludge at the currently under-construction Hanford's waste treatment plant.

RICHLAND, Wash. – A Northwest wine science center is moving closer to reality with the promise of money from the industry and private donors. The center would be part of Washington State University located on the Tri-Cities campus.

Plenty of people study wine grapes and wine around the world. But each region is different and has different challenges in growing and producing top rated wine. That's why the Northwest wine industry wants a place to research, teach and learn of its own.