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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One of the most difficult challenges at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is moving radioactive waste from point “A” to point “B.” The federal government is spending billions of dollars on a waste treatment plant. Piping that radioactive waste across the desert is sort of like getting ketchup out of a bottle. But it’s a whole lot more complicated and dangerous.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

This week we're taking a look at what police say is a resurgence of gang activity - especially in rural areas. In part three of "Living In Gangland," we profile a mother and daughter and their struggle with gangs.

Across the nation there are an estimated 750,000 gang members. That's according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Some of them are women, but more often, women are impacted as the mothers, sisters and girlfriends of gang memgers. They may not actively choose the gang life, but its perils affect them nonetheless.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

This week we're taking a look at what police say is a resurgence of gang activity - especially in rural areas. In part two of "Living in Gangland," we bring you the story of the unincorporated town of Outlook, in Eastern Washington - and one woman who is fighting to get the town back.

When "Maria" gets off Interstate 82 and heads down the off ramp for Outlook – she starts praying -  that she’ll get home safe today.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

The small amounts of radioactive Iodine-131 found in milk in Spokane has been causing ripples of concern throughout the Northwest. Officials say the tiny amounts of radiation found in the milk were probably blown over from Japan’s stricken nuclear plants.

Just outside the Tri-Cities, Drex Gauntt’s alfalfa fields roll out like a plush emerald shag carpet. One of the ways that cows can pass Iodine-131 into their milk is by eating grass or hay that’s been contaminated with the radioactive isotope. Gauntt says he’s not too concerned.

KPLU

Northwest milk industry leaders are hustling to allay fears about radiation in their products. The Environmental Protection Agency found small amounts of radiation in a milk sample taken from a Spokane-area dairy last week.

The agency has stepped up its monitoring program earthquake and nuclear plant disasters in Japan. Blair Thompson is the spokesman for the Washington Dairy Products Commission. He says Northwest dairies are concerned about the findings, but there is no immediate risk to residents.

Biggunben / Flickr

Some Air Force and Army bases in the Northwest are helping with the Libyan fight. Seven tankers and about 100 airmen from Fairchild Air Force Base are already working in undisclosed locations in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn.

L’Ecole

One of Washington's oldest and most recognizable wine brands, L’Ecole, is growing up a bit with a new, sleeker label.

L'Ecole is French for "the school" and that's because the winery operates out of a nearly 100-year-old school house. The old label was a child's colorful drawing of the facility. The new label sports a sepia-toned oil painting of the historical school house soon after it was constructed in 1912.

Documents surfacing from an ongoing lawsuit are raising questions about the demotion of a Hanford whistleblower and whether a top manager with the Department of Energy was involved.

Japan's nuclear reactor crisis has sharpened the debate over where the U.S. will store its radioactive waste in the long-term. Tuesday the State of Washington and other plaintiffs will argue in federal court that the Obama administration should not abandon the Yucca Mountain repository in Nevada.

The nuclear reactor crisis in Japan is prompting more scrutiny of the nuclear power plant near Richland in southeast Washington. Thursday a Seattle-based Hanford watchdog sued Energy Northwest. The group is demanding the power supplier turn over more documents on the possibility of the plant using plutonium for reactor fuel.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers will open for barge traffic soon. Locks were closed for several months during repairs.

Wikimedia Commons

The tumultuous political climate in the Middle East is creating volatility in the price of wheat.  Northwest farmers and wheat traders are trying to hedge against the uncertainty.

The federal government mishandled the cleanup of the dangerous Hanford K-Basins near the Columbia River. The mistakes cost taxpayers millions of dollars. Those are some of the conclusions of a federal Inspector General report.

People with a direct stake in the Hanford Nuclear Reservation will be closely following President Obama's budget roll out. Money for cleaning up hazardous waste there is expected to be down.

Crews at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation are once again pumping radioactive waste from a World War II era tank. Work had been stopped on the unstable tank buried near the Columbia River.

What do you do when you have a huge dilemma, and the number of people who can solve it is dwindling? That's the problem at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation -- one of the largest environmental cleanup projects in the world.

About 12,000 people are working on it right now. But the vast majority of Hanford's top experts are nearing retirement age. That leaves this complex cleanup task to the next generation.

The stakes are high: one wrong move could mean an environmental disaster, or a contaminated worker.

Supporters of a proposed interpretive center for the Hanford Reach have identified a new location for the star-crossed project. They're hoping the fresh site will breathe new life into a project that's been mired in controversy and divisiveness.

Shelby SuperCars

A company that designs super-fast cars is hoping to build a new factory in the state. Shelby SuperCars is eyeing a site in south-central Washington, in the city of West Richland.

Until recently, Shelby held the record for the making the fastest production car on earth: an average of about 256 miles per hour. Now the company working on their next generation speed demon. Shelby has applied for an $800,000 state loan to buy property and build a new manufacturing facility.

Anna King / N3

Residents with contaminated wells in the Yakima Valley are getting state-funded purification systems, at least some of them are. Many families there have been drinking water polluted with nitrates and bacteria.

Carolyn Kaster / AP Photo

Whether you’re going to a corner lot or snowshoeing into the backcountry – picking the perfect Christmas tree can be daunting. We tracked down a certified Christmas tree expert and have this primer on how to care for evergreen trees.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Across the Northwest food banks are seeing more customers than ever. Now, Washington’s Department of Agriculture is asking farmers to increase their produce donations to aid the state’s hungry.

How do you catch a radioactive mouse?  Hanford Nuclear Reservation workers will use standard mousetraps. Radioactive droppings were found at Hanford recently. After nabbing a radioactive rabbit two weeks ago,  workers say catching the mice is no easy task.

Hanford Nuclear Reservation officials say they don’t know how much radioactive contaminated soil they’re dealing with yet. What they do know is that newly discovered radioactive dirt exceeds lethal limits and is not far from the Columbia River and the city of Richland.

Anna King / N3

In the down economy some people are turning to off-the-books business models. High-priced underground restaurants have been popular with foodies, but some families have begun selling meals from home kitchens just to scrape by.

A radioactively contaminated rabbit has been caught and killed on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland in southeast Washington.

The U.S. Department of Energy says that's not unusual. Last year the agency caught 33 contaminated animals. But this rabbit was unusually close to workers and the public.

The bunny was found just a few miles outside of the city of Richland in Hanford's 300 Area. Todd Nelson is a spokesman for one of the federal contractors that clean up Hanford. He downplayed the incident.

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