Environment

pests
12:25 pm
Wed June 13, 2012

Black flies bedevil Spokane

EPA: Black flies are found under rocks in swiftly flowing streams, but also sometimes indicate too many nutrients (nitrogen and/or phosphorus) in the water.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

SPOKANE, Wash. – Another damp spring has led to another outbreak of black flies in Spokane.

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Moses Lake
4:31 pm
Mon June 11, 2012

Work begins on central Washington superfund site

The Moses Lake Wellfield Contamination Superfund Site is located in the City of Moses Lake in eastern Washington. Image via EPA

Originally published on Mon June 11, 2012 6:51 pm

RICHLAND, Wash. – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has started the cleanup of a superfund site near Moses Lake in central Washington. This restoration has been in the works for decades.

The contaminated area is made up of an old Air Force airport, a county airport and some adjacent lands. Dumpsites there are loaded with chemicals like PCBs, lead and petroleum. The EPA has started testing and designing a treatment system to remove trichloroethylene from the groundwater at the superfund site.

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Environment
5:00 am
Mon June 11, 2012

Greenpeace vs. Shell: Duelling vessels head for Arctic from Seattle

Greenpeace scientists will deploy research submarines to explore two of Shell’s planned Arctic drilling sites, the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.
Lindsay Lowe KPLU

Seattle’s Elliott Bay is the epicenter of a global energy fight.

The Shell Oil Company has two rigs docked here, the Kulluk and the Noble Discoverer. Also in Elliott Bay is the Greenpeace vessel, Esperanza.

As soon as the ice clears, Shell’s rigs will head out for the Arctic. They’ll be the first to conduct exploratory drilling there in more than two decades. Greenpeace plans to shadow them, using submarines.

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Point Defiance Zoo
8:12 am
Sun June 10, 2012

Photos: Zoo's live animal drama encourages kids to get outside

The awe-inspiring bald eagle quickly became a crowd favorite.
Mallory Kaniss KPLU

Point Defiance Zoo’s latest outdoor theater show – “Captain Adventure vs. Dr. Do-Nothing: The Quest to Get Outside!” – is a live animal show that follows the journey of a superheroine and her trusty superdog sidekick as they defeat their nemesis, Dr. Do-Nothing.

The show features a variety of native and exotic animals and the chance for audience members to participate. KPLU’s multimedia intern Mallory Kaniss attended one of the shows and brought back the photo gallery below. (For larger images and to view captions or if your device doesn't support Flash, check out the show on our Flickr page.)

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Japanese Tsunami debris
2:01 pm
Fri June 8, 2012

Gawkers welcome, invasive species not, around tsunami dock

Workers scrape invasive species off of the derelict dock. Courtesy of Oregon Parks and Recreation Dept."

Originally published on Fri June 8, 2012 12:32 pm

NEWPORT, Ore. – Park rangers and volunteers worked quickly Thursday to defuse an invasive species time bomb that washed up near Newport, Oregon. They scraped off and sterilized a huge boat dock that was set adrift by last year’s devastating tsunami in Japan.

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Japanese Tsunami debris
1:49 pm
Fri June 8, 2012

Is Japanese Dock A Noah's Ark Or A Trojan Horse?

Among the creatures that survived the trans-Pacific trek aboard the Japanese dock was this sea star, which was found inside the float.
Jessica Miller flickr

Originally published on Fri June 8, 2012 3:59 pm

A bizarre event has drawn scientists to a beach in Oregon — a floating concrete dock from Japan has washed ashore. It had been ripped from its moorings by last year's tsunami and floated across the Pacific.

The dock is encrusted with mussels, barnacles and other marine life from Asia. Scientists are amazed these organisms survived the 14-month voyage, but they're also worried some of these organisms could become pests in U.S. waters.

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Japanese Tsunami Debris
1:07 pm
Fri June 8, 2012

Japanese dock suddenly makes tsunami debris threat real

In this photo provided by the Oregon Park and Recreations Department, an unidentified worker burns off debris from the Japanese dock float on Thursday.

When a massive concrete and metal dock – 66 feet long, seven feet tall, 19 feet wide and covered in alien species – hit an Oregon beach this week, the threat to the Northwest’s economy and environment from millions of tons of Japanese tsunami debris suddenly became more real.

Even with the haunting appearance of a Japanese ship floating off the coast of Alaska, reports of what we might expect to hit our coastlines centered mostly on plastics, soccer balls and even some human remains in running shoes – all of which carried more curiosity than alarm.

But then the dock just showed up on the beach one morning and now the threat of ships colliding with significant tsunami debris, and the invasive species that can hitch a ride from the coast of Japan on them, has officials significantly worried.

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Emergency Preparedness
5:12 pm
Tue June 5, 2012

Less than half in the NW, at best, prepared for earthquake

Ninth-grade students take part in a statewide earthquake drill in 2007 in Shoreline. Are you prepared?
The Associated Press

If you live in the Northwest, it's hard to escape the knowledge that the possibility of a major earthquake is real. 

Yet, far more than half of residents here are not prepared for such a disaster. Despite frequent campaigns encouraging homeowners to have at least a 3-day supply of emergency water, food and first aid on hand, authorities assume only 30-40 percent of us actually do.

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derelict ship
10:51 am
Tue June 5, 2012

Refloated ship 'Deep Sea' in Penn Cove to be towed to Seattle

An image of the Deep Sea derelict ship reportedly shot Jan. 1. The ship caught fire and sank in May.
Chad Collins Flickr

COUPEVILLE, Wash. — The sunken derelict ship that was refloated in Penn Cove is scheduled to be towed from Whidbey Island to a Seattle shipyard Wednesday to be dismantled.

A spill from the ship has cost nearly $2 million, so far.

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Urban Design
4:47 am
Mon June 4, 2012

Seattle's 'UpGarden' P-Patch takes community gardening to new heights

Photo by Nicole Kistler courtesy Kistler | Higbee Cahoot

It’s a first-of-its-kind in Seattle and perhaps even the country. Over the weekend, the city celebrated the opening of its first-ever rooftop community garden.  

Its design is garnering interest from around the region, as urban planners look for ways to integrate more open space and urban agriculture into increasingly dense neighborhoods.

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Environment
10:49 am
Fri June 1, 2012

Seattle packs EPA Hearing on Alaska's proposed Pebble Mine

Bristol Bay salmon that contribute more than $100 million annually to Washington's economy would be at risk, say opponents of proposed mining operations in the watershed.
toddraden Photo Flickr

It was standing room only at the federal building in Seattle, where the Environmental Protection Agency held its first hearing Thursday on Alaska’s Bristol Bay fishery.

At issue is the potential effects of a proposed gold and copper mine there. The assessment looks at mining in general, though concern has arisen over a huge project known as the Pebble Mine.

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The Salt
10:00 pm
Tue May 29, 2012

Nuclear Tuna Is Hot News, But Not Because It's Going To Make You Sick

A Tokyo sushi restaurant displays blocks of fat meat tuna cut out from a 269kg bluefin tuna.
Yoshikazu Tsuno AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 30, 2012 2:17 am

What snarky headline writer could resist a story about "hot tuna?" Or how about "tuna meltdown?"

Really, it seems just plain daffy to ignore a new study that says some Pacific bluefin tuna picked up traces of radioactive material from the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year and brought it across the Pacific Ocean.

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coal exports
2:55 pm
Tue May 29, 2012

Seattle opposes coal-export ports

Seattle Councilman Mike O'Brien says mining and burning more coal isn't consistent with the city's goal to fight climate change.
The Associated Press

The Seattle City Council has unanimously passed a resolution opposing the development of coal-export terminals in Washington state over concerns about increased train traffic and potential harm to health and the environment.

Tuesday's vote comes as the federal government is reviewing the first of at least six port facilities proposed in Washington and Oregon to ship coal from the Powder River basin of Montana and Wyoming to thirsty markets in Asia.

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Oil Exploration
2:29 pm
Fri May 25, 2012

Arctic drill ship nearly ready to leave Seattle for Alaska

The floating oil-drilling platform "Kulluk" is seen briefly bathed in light as it passes an otherwise cloudy and dark downtown Seattle in July 2011.
The Associated Press

The Arctic drill ship Kulluk has been berthed in Seattle for about 10 months, but if Shell Oil gets final federal permits and overcomes court challenges by environmental groups the vessel will be in Alaska waters this year.

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Nuclear Energy
4:21 pm
Thu May 24, 2012

Northwest's only nuclear plant celebrates relicensing

Hundreds of Energy Northwest employees stepped outside for a celebration of the Columbia Generating Station nuclear power plant’s relicensing. Photo by Anna King

Originally published on Thu May 24, 2012 4:56 pm

RICHLAND, Wash. – Hundreds of employees of the Northwest’s only power plant celebrated Thursday. The Columbia Generating Station now is licenced to run for another 20 years.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved the new 20-year license. That means the plant in southeast Washington will send up plumes of steam, visible for long distances across the desert until 2043.

It took employees five years to finish the application process. Carl Adrian heads the Tri-City Development Council. He says the plant is an important employer here, but it’s more than that.

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