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

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.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

Reflections of a farm laborer and his son near Eltopia, Wash.:

"My name is Victor Santillan and I work for Agri-Pack, stacking hay in the trucks. I'm from Durango, Mexico and I'm proud of it too. I think people are still feeling sad about this anniversary. I feel sad for all the people that died.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

Reflections of an eastern Washington farmer harvesting alfalfa with a massive tractor:

"This is about the only piece of farm equipment that has air conditioning. (Laughs) My name is Collette McEntire and I am swathing third cutting export alfalfa hay.

RICHLAND, Wash. – A new study says increasing numbers of families in Walla Walla County are living in overcrowded conditions.

Seattle-based Amazon is under ongoing pressure from the state of California to collect state sales taxes from internet consumers. This week the retailer offered a deal to California's legislature and retailers to try and curry favor. But Amazon was rebuffed.

Courtesy of United Coalition of Reason

A coalition of atheist groups in Spokane is trying to get the word out to other atheists who might feel they’re on their own. This week the group launched an ad campaign on public buses and at the Spokane County Fair.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

RICHLAND, Wash. – Northwest wine grape growers are sure hoping their grapes hurry up. The countdown is on until the first freeze when grapes will lose their leaves and stop ripening. And certain red varietals need more sun-time than others to be ready for the bottle.

RICHLAND, Wash. – A new Department of Energy document leaked to the press reveals that Hanford's massive waste treatment plant might be over budget. A project review committee says the plant is in jeopardy of opening on time.

The waste plant meant to treat 56 million gallons of radioactive waste is at risk, the report says. That toxic sludge is now sitting in aging underground tanks in southeast Washington not far from the Columbia River.

RICHLAND, Wash. – A key contractor at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation said Monday it will have nuclear experts review its safety culture. Bechtel has been under fire at the southeast Washington nuclear site since a high-level manager was taken out of his position after raising safety concerns.

Bechtel is building a $12 billion factory to treat 56 million gallons of radioactive waste. But recently the federal Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board came to the conclusion that the project’s safety culture is "flawed."

courtesy of Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife

RICHLAND, Wash. –Wild life officials and park managers are refining a better strategy to keep aggressive mountain goats at bay, but steering clear of goats is a good first step.

A hiker was gored to death by a big mountain goat in the Olympic National Park last fall. And just recently, Wenatchee National Forest rangers fielded multiple complaints about an aggressive goat in the hills near Ellensburg.

hanfordvitplant.com

Hanford contractors are welding the lids onto massive waste mixing tanks later this week. That’s despite serious concerns being raised by engineers at the plant in southeast Washington. A labor union that represents those workers has asked for a work stoppage and filed a formal grievance.

Washington Apple Commission

Washington State harvests about 65% of the nation's apples each fall. But this year, because of the chilly spring, those cheery orbs of goodness could be a bit smaller and possibly less sweet.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

This past spring we brought you the story of an Eastern Washington dairy town plagued by gang violence. Now, several months later residents of Outlook, Washington are fighting gangs with summer camps and social gatherings.

This spring a 17-year-old girl was shot at her home in Outlook, Wash. allegedly by four gang members. But just recently, blocks away from that murder site, children played bean bag toss and took whacks at a piñata.

A new agricultural plant near Othello in Eastern Washington is breeding highly specialized corn for the huge world-wide seed company Monsanto. The laboratories and growing facilities are slated to help the company more quickly distil the genetics of corn to get top characteristics to market.

Pacific Northwest National Lab

RICHLAND, Wash. – Ants have an incredible ability to track down food and swarm together against enemies. Now, scientists at the Pacific Northwest National Lab are hoping to use the same model to fight off cyberattacks.

The new tools are called digital ants.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Seniority won't be the only factor for determining layoffs at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington. Pink slips are expected in six weeks by several Hanford contractors because federal stimulus money is tapering off.

CH2MHill and Mission Support Alliance are the federal contractors planning on the 1,600 lay-offs. The companies say union employees will lose their jobs based on seniority: those with the least experience going first.

Photo courtesy Dept. of Energy

The nation needs a new agency to site a federal nuclear waste dump. That's the recommendation issued Friday by a presidential commission.

The congressionally-chartered agency would decide where to store radioactive waste that's now sitting in aging underground tanks in southeast Washington.

The Northwest could end up keeping Hanford’s nuclear waste for 100 years or more under a recommendation issued Friday by a presidential commission. President Obama appointed the Blue Ribbon Commission to look into the question of where to store the nation’s worst nuclear waste.

The new report says one option may be to store the waste at regional centers for more than 100 years while the country looks for a suitable permanent repository. That concerns Susan Leckband, who chairs a board that advises managers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

BASIN CITY, Wash. – Peaches, nectarines and apricots are some of the iconic delights of summer. But this year, Northwest apricots are at about half the usual production according to the Washington Fruit Commission. Peaches and nectarines are down too, about 10 percent. And they're all late.

A message from Frank Russo, WTP Project Director, and Bill Gay, WTP Deputy Project Director

Fellow WTP employees,

Over the past several weeks, there have been reports about the Department of Energy's (DOE's) Hanford Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) Project that question our project’s safety culture and resolution of technical design issues, and that suggest cost and schedule objectives are favored over technical risk and safety. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

 SAFETY

RICHLAND, Wash. – The heads of two Hanford Nuclear Reservation contractors tried to reassure workers with a memo this week. It says there is a strong safety culture on the massive waste treatment plant now under construction. The memo comes after several workers have come forward with concerns about the plant.

Northwest News Network

RICHLAND, Wash. – More Hanford workers are starting to raise safety concerns about a massive nuclear waste treatment plant under construction in southeast Washington.

A federal nuclear watchdog agency has called the safety culture at the Hanford facility “flawed.” That finding is bolstered by a string of new letters from workers who say they have firsthand knowledge of problems at the plant.

Northwest News Network

RICHLAND, Wash. – Hanford Nuclear Reservation workers have retrieved a key portion of radioactive waste ahead of schedule. That announcement came from the federal government today.

Courtesy of Hanford Contractor Bechtel

RICHLAND, Wash. – A high-level Hanford whistleblower is accusing the Department of Energy of being too cozy with its contractors at the federal nuclear reservation.

Walter Tamosaitis made that accusation in a letter released Monday. (Updated with link to a copy of the letter.)

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