Bellamy Pailthorp

Environment Reporter

Bellamy Pailthorp joined the staff of KPLU as a general assignment reporter in 1999 and covered the business and labor beat for more than a decade. She now covers the environment beat. She was raised in Seattle, but spent 8 years in Berlin, Germany freelancing for NPR and working as a producer for Deutsche Welle TV after receiving a Fulbright scholarship in 1989. She holds a Bachelors degree in German language and literature from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT and a Masters in journalism from New York's Columbia University, where she completed the Knight-Bagehot fellowship in business reporting in 2006.

Bellamy's most memorable KPLU radio moment: “Seeing the INS open a shipping container at the Port of Seattle that contained stowaways from China, three of whom died en route of seasickness. Harrowing stuff, with global economics and inequity at its root.”

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Environment
10:18 am
Tue February 12, 2013

Climate change pushing water system upgrades

Snowpack in the crest of the Cascade Mountains provides storage for Seattle's Cedar River watershed. Lowering snow levels are expected because of global warming, putting the supply at risk.
Credit Courtsey Seattle Public Utilities

Global climate change is a reality that few people now deny. 2012 was the warmest year on record. So what about Seattle’s water supply? 

Managers say they need to speed up about $30-million of investment in a backup plan.

About two thirds of Seattle’s water comes from one of the most pristine sources in the nation. The Cedar River Watershed lies in more than 90,000 acres of protected land southeast of the city, near North Bend.

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Environment
5:14 pm
Wed February 6, 2013

WA Toxics Coalition again seeking ban on flame retardant Tris

Five years ago, Washington became the first state in the nation to ban a class of toxic flame retardants known as PBDEs.

Now, evidence is mounting that a widely-used alternative is just as toxic.

A new bill before lawmakers in Olympia would ban the flame retardant called Tris from children’s products and household furniture.

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Environment
9:21 am
Tue February 5, 2013

Seattle makes list of best U.S. cities for urban forests

Seattle's integration and management of trees in its cityscape puts it in the top ten cities for urban forests
Courtesy American Forests

Seattle is among the nation’s top ten cities for urban forests. This might sound like a no-brainer, but many cities that take pride in their trees did not make the cut. 

The Washington, DC non-profit American Forests based the list on surveys of urban forestry programs in the nation’s fifty most populous cities.

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Environment
4:55 am
Fri February 1, 2013

Should Giant Pacific Octopus get special protections?

The giant Pacific octopus is native to western Washington. It can grow to 100 lbs in its 3-4-year lifespan and is a highlight for coldwater divers here.
Janna Nichols photo

The giant Pacific octopus is a relatively healthy and abundant creature among the native wildlife living in Puget Sound.

But it’s such an iconic species that the recent killing of one by a young diver near Seattle’s Alki point has others in the community calling for new protections.

The state is accepting nominations for an advisory group that will consider a range of conservation strategies.

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Environment
8:03 am
Wed January 30, 2013

How green can you go? Seattle celebrates Deep Green building

Skanska's Stone34 office building is Seattle's first Deep Green structure, a designation that ranks it above LEED Platinum for environmental design
Courtesy Skanska USA

Seattle is leading the way in environmentally-sound building design. Sweden’s international construction firm Skanska has broken ground on a building in Fremont that promises to bring a whole new level of green to the city. 

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Environment
4:20 pm
Mon January 28, 2013

Clean tech boosters looking to military for leg up

When you think of the clean energy economy, military barracks and mortar launchers probably aren’t the first things that come to mind.

But local clean energy boosters say the use of solar panels and biodiesel by the Department of Defense could be the key to getting more of these technologies off the ground.

Two years ago, the DOD created a new office, with a goal of reducing energy use by the U.S. military.

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Environment
3:02 pm
Fri January 25, 2013

Sinking incident points to state’s struggle with derelict vessels

Two derelict vessels, the Helena Star and the Golden West, began sinking early Thursday in the Hylebos waterway near Tacoma. State and federal agencies must try to contain any leaking oil or other pollutants. The vessels can also pose navigation hazards.
US Coast Guard photo courtesy Washington Dept of Ecology

Two derelict vessels are sinking in a bankrupt marina near Tacoma. Fire fighters have circled them with oil booms to contain any pollutants. 

The incident is the latest in a series of stories that show the link between ecological health and the economy.

The two boats in question were chained together when one of them, the Helena Star, began to sink. The other, the Golden West, was listing badly when coast guard and firefighters got to the scene.

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Science
5:04 am
Mon January 21, 2013

How to prove the tree-huggers hunch? Study a deadly beetle

An emerald ash borer. Tracing the effects of this invasive tree killer is one way to show a link between trees and human health.
Benimoto photo Flickr

If you live in the Evergreen State, chances are, you like trees. Cities around the Pacific Northwest do a lot to protect them. 

But, do they really make us healthier? An economist with the US forest service in Portland is working on that question.

Geoffrey Donovan  loves trees. He’s already shown they make home prices go up, energy use go down and they tend to keep crime rates down as well. So what about public health?

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Rising Sea Levels
6:23 pm
Mon January 14, 2013

Seattle planners predict bigger flood zones due to climate change

Department Manager Paul Fleming and Meteorologist James Rufo-Hill, of Seattle Public Utility's Climate and Sustainability Group, created the new map showing areas that are at risk for flooding during high tides and storms.
Bellamy Pailthorp photo KPLU News

It’s data that’s been collected and analyzed for several years now.

But predictions on how high tides and extreme storm events might combine to cause flooding in Seattle are seeming less and less like science fiction.

The City has unveiled a new map, showing huge areas that are much more likely to end up waterlogged during storms. And it says the estimates are no longer considered extreme. 

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Environment
8:34 am
Mon January 14, 2013

Climate change report shows major impacts for Northwest

Huge areas of Seattle's Port could be inundated when higher tides combine with more extreme storm surges, accdording to the Draft National Assessment on Climate Change
Bjørn Giesenbauer photo Flickr

Imagine a future in which major areas of Seattle’s waterfront are flooded because of rising tides.

Businesses that front on Elliot Bay, including the famous Edgewater Hotel, or parks such as Myrtle Edwards or Golden Gardens, would have to adjust to storm surges more than six feet higher than we’re used to.

According to a new federal report on climate change, that future is just a few decades away. 

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Other News
10:11 am
Wed January 9, 2013

Mudslides continue to plague rail traffic north of Seattle

"With the steep slopes on one side and water on the other, we know that debris is going to roll downhill," says BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas of the rail corridor between Seattle and Everett. "And unfortunately, we're caught at the bottom with the shovel."
Zargoman photo Flickr

Mudslides continue to shut down train tracks, and halt passenger rail traffic north of Seattle.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe spokesman Gus Melonas says tracks between Seattle and Everett have been shut down for passenger trains 95 percent of the time since Thanksgiving. 

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Gun Control
11:31 am
Tue January 8, 2013

Seattle gun buyback plan: Turn in your gun, get a $100 giftcard

sadaton Flickr

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and County Executive Dow Constantine say there’s not much they can do about gun laws. Past efforts to ban firearms in parks have failed because they’re preempted by state laws. But they say they can revive an idea last tried in Seattle twenty years ago: a gun buyback program.

They hope to get hundreds of weapons off the streets with a privately-funded effort.

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Other News
4:54 pm
Mon January 7, 2013

Who pays when a daredevil needs rescue?

The search for a skydiver who went missing near Mount Si last week has been called off for now.

The King County Sheriff’s office says they’ve scoured every angle of the area where he might have landed that they could get to on foot. Foggy weather is preventing their next move: taking a helicopter into the cliffs and ravines where the missing man could have taken shelter if he survived.

But who pays for such rescues?

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Environment
10:08 am
Fri January 4, 2013

Backers say I-522 on GMO labeling would protect state economy

Wheat fields somewhere in the Palouse. Concern over the prospect of genetically-modified crops spoiling this picture and possibly preventing wheat exports has spurred some farmers to join the I-522 campaign, for labeling of GMO foods and seed.
djniks photo Flickr

Washington voters are in the avant-garde when it comes to policies on recreational marijuana and same-sex marriage. And now a grassroots campaign wants us to lead the country on food labeling.

Backers of legislative initiative 522 say they submitted 100,000 more signatures than needed for a measure that would require companies to clearly mark products containing genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

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Weather with Cliff Mass
9:31 am
Fri January 4, 2013

A record dark December - and now the coldest week of the year

Despite the record dark December, crispy cold days can make for great visibility at times in Seattle.
1yen photo Flickr

If you feel like last month was dark and dreary, you're not imagining things. KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says December 2012 was one of the darkest on record.

"We've had a terrible period. It was one of the darkest Decembers we've had. Certainly we were in the top five of the last 50 years."

He says in records kept for the last 13 years, we tied with December 2007 for the worst wet, damp and dreary skies.

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