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Hanford Managers Mull Solutions For Leaky Tanks

Nov 15, 2012

RICHLAND, Wash. – Some of the decisions made over the last 40 years at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation are coming back to haunt the site’s current managers. A new report out this week examined why a double-hulled tank of radioactive waste recently sprung a leak in its inner shell. That has raised the possibility of having to pump out the waste from the tank.

The tank is called AY-102. And it’s about the size of a house. It’s buried in the sandy soil north of Richland.

SEATTLE, Wash. – Washington Governor-elect Jay Inslee says states are the incubators of new ideas – and that should extend to marijuana legalization. Inslee Wednesday said he’s hopeful Washington’s new recreational pot law can take effect without federal interference.

Inslee didn’t support Washington’s marijuana legalization initiative. But now that it has passed he says, “The voters have spoken.”

Inslee says he will work in a “rational and mature” way to persuade the Obama administration to allow Washington to implement the law.

Catrena Hampton

Washington State Department of Transportation officials gave the media a tour Wednesday of pontoons on the State Route 520 floating bridge. The pontoons are part of a massive concrete structure that will keep the new bridge afloat.

blue faucet
blockpartypress / Creative Commons - flickr

Last Tuesday's general election marked a decisive moment for the city of Shoreline: 70 percent of voters there agreed to buy water services back from the city of Seattle and create their own water utility. 

RICHLAND, Wash. – Workers the Hanford Nuclear Reservation are readying pumping equipment at a slow-leaking radioactive waste tank in case the leak gets worse. A newly released report details why the tank became unstable.

Hanford officials say so far they’ve found no waste leaking into the environment from the tank called AY-102.

The new report says many of the tanks original welds from 40 years ago didn’t meet standards and had to be fixed before it was filled. Later, super-hot waste was added that was likely corrosive to the tank’s metal walls.

3 striking union members outside Hostess plant
KUOW/Deborah Wang

Striking members of a bakers’ union are still picketing a plant in Seattle that makes Hostess Twinkies and Ho Hos. That’s despite the fact the plant is now closed for good.

Nalini Prasanna / Flickr

The charter school initiative appears to have passed. The first charter schools would likely open their doors in Washington next school year, at the earliest. Here's the countdown of what's next.

The charter school initiative has passed by a narrow margin, according to the Associated Press. The vote stands at 50.8 percent to 49.2 percent. That's a difference of about 44,000 votes. Statewide, 269,000 ballots remain to be counted. The No on 1240 campaign Facebook page says campaign managers won't consider the race over until every vote is counted.

Groves of olive trees might bring to mind for you sun-soaked Mediterranean or Californian landscapes. But in the last 10 years, a few Northwest growers have significantly ramped-up their production of domestic olive oil. They harvest just in time for the holidays.

The Durant family started in the wine grape business in Yamhill County, Oregon. The family diversified into olive growing about seven years ago.

PORTLAND - If you watched some of last month's coverage of Superstorm Sandy, you probably saw rescues of people who refused to evacuate. Many stayed behind despite the danger to be with their pets.

Emergency shelters for people usually don't let you bring your house pets or livestock along. The same issue cropped up here during wildfire season last summer. And it could loom over the next flood or earthquake.

Oregon Humane Society trainer Jo Becker starts a recent workshop in Portland with a slide montage of Hurricane Sandy scenes.

Democrat Concedes Secretary Of State Contest

Nov 13, 2012
Courtesy Citizens for Kim Wyman

Democrat Kathleen Drew has conceded the race for Washington secretary of state.

In a statement Saturday, Drew said of her Republican rival Kim Wyman, "I know that she will carry forward Washington’s tradition of fair and impartial elections, and I am optimistic that she will work on measures to remove barriers and increase voter participation."

For Young Adults, Autism Diagnosis Opens Doors, Minds

Nov 10, 2012
Dorian Hinkle and Jordan Howard
KUOW photo/Bryan Buckalew

Growing up, Jordan Howard always felt like an outsider. He had trouble making friends, and he felt awkward in groups. He says he felt like one of those misunderstood high school clichés. And he could never put his finger on why.

Alex Brenner, Jordan Howard and Dorian Hinkle
KUOW photo/Bryan Buckalew

The first time Rolando Elias came to work at the Federal Way farmers market, Dr. April Walter was nervous.

“That was a big-time risk,” April says. “It could have blown up in my face.” She opened a tent at the market to give young adults with autism a chance to work.

Cautiously Optimistic: Off To College, With Autism

Nov 10, 2012
KUOW photo/Bryan Buckalew

Alex Brenner walked into his psychologist's office one day this summer and right away, he thought he had done something wrong. Both his parents were standing at the front desk. As he closed the door, his mom handed him a letter. “She said, 'read it.' I sat down. It said, ‘you’re getting into the University of Washington.’”

Alex was stunned. His dad helped him uncork a bottle of champagne and they celebrated on the spot. The University of Washington in Seattle was Alex’s first choice among schools. He had been studying for four years at a community college to get his grades up. All his hard work had finally paid off. But sitting there holding his acceptance letter, another wave of realization washed over him. Soon he’d be living on his own in a new city, a long drive from his parents’ home in Tacoma. He suddenly felt nervous.

1st District Republican candidate John Koster
Deborah Wang

The 1st District was supposed to be the Republican Party’s best chance of picking up a Congressional seat in the state this year. But after Democrats won the seat decisively, Republicans are pointing fingers over who is to blame.

Updated: Tuesday, November 12, 1:00 p.m.

Witnesses and survivors recounted a horrific scene following a massacre at two villages in Kandahar Province March 11 that killed 16 civilians and wounded six. They testified via a live video link from Afghanistan during a pretrial hearing for Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state.

Northwest News Network

Republican Rob McKenna was leading in 31 of 39 Washington counties. But it was not enough. Friday night he conceded defeat in the race for governor to Democrat Jay Inslee. McKenna called Inslee after the latest vote tally showed the race narrowing, but not fast enough to reverse the Democrat’s lead. Later, McKenna posted a video to Facebook.

McKenna Concedes Wash. Governor’s Race

Nov 10, 2012

Former Democratic Congressman Jay Inslee has declared victory in Washington’s tight contest for governor. The announcement came Friday night shortly after Republican Rob McKenna conceded the race.

Veterans for Peace members celebrate
Amy Radil

US District Chief Judge Marsha Pechman said Veterans for Peace must be allowed to march in the Auburn Veterans Day parade Saturday. She called Auburn’s policy a textbook violation of the First Amendment.

The city of Auburn’s Veterans Day parade is one of the largest in the country. It started during the Vietnam War. The group Veterans for Peace started marching in the parade during the Iraq war. They hold signs saying “bring the troops home.”

Pre-trial hearings continue this evening at Joint Base Lewis-McChord for Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales. He’s accused of massacring 16 civilians in Afghanistan, including nine children. Prosecutors say he left his base last March and went on an overnight five-hour killing spree.

The hearings will determine whether the case will advance to court-martial, where the government has said it plans to seek the death penalty. KUOW’s Sara Lerner spoke with Patricia Murphy, who’s covering the hearings.

Pretrial hearings for Staff Sergeant Robert Bales continue tonight when Afghan villagers and soldiers are expected to testify by video. The hearings are expected to run into the early morning hours US time.

1st District Republican candidate John Koster
Deborah Wang

The battle for Jay Inslee’s old seat in Congress now appears to be over.

Republican John Koster sent a letter to supporters Thursday night informing them that he plans to officially concede the race today.

Gay rights groups are hoping Oregon will be the next state to legalize same-sex marriage at the ballot. Washington did that this week. But to follow suit, Oregon voters would have to reverse themselves and repeal a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

Voters passed that ban in 2004 after a campaign led by the conservative Oregon Family Council. Spokeswoman Teresa Harke says her group will oppose any efforts to overturn it.

"I think there are still a lot of people who support one man, one woman marriage. And we are ready to fight for that."

Exit polls show Latino voters helped push President Obama to victory on Tuesday. But there was another sign of the growing influence of Hispanics on election day: That was the actual names on many ballots.

A public radio analysis done before the election found that just 2 percent of the Northwest's elected officials were Latino.

Oregon may have nudged that up. Voters in the Portland area elected Jessica Vega Pederson and Joseph Gallegos, both Democrats, to the state House.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Energy Secretary Steven Chu is bolstering the scientific brain power at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation’s waste treatment plant. A memo released to employees Thursday says the aim is to solve nagging technical problems at the plant more quickly.

The massive factory at Hanford is supposed to treat 56 million gallons of radioactive waste. That goo is currently in leaking, aging underground tanks near the Columbia River.

Felicitas Flores and her daughter Claudia
Liz Jones / KUOW

Immigrants and advocates rallied in Seattle today to highlight their priority for the President Obama’s second term:  comprehensive immigration reform.

Suzan DelBene
Amy Radil

At a post-election lunch for politicians and labor leaders, Democrats were savoring their victories, but also contemplating the tough choices awaiting progressives in Congress this month.

Catrena Hampton / KUOW

Supporters of same-sex marriage in Washington are celebrating victory. The campaign to approve Referendum 74, Washington United for Marriage, says it's now confident their four-point lead will hold.

Seattle Public Schools will ask voters for property tax levies worth $1.2 billion in February. The school board unanimously approved renewals of the capital projects and operations levies Wednesday night. 

Senator Maria Cantwell waving at a campaign rally.
KUOW/Deborah Wang

As the vote count continues, Washington Republicans are preparing for possible losses in several key state races.

Democratic attorney general hopeful Bob Ferguson leads Republican Reagan Dunn. The two are vying for the seat left open by Republican Rob McKenna, who stepped down to run for governor. McKenna has held the office since 2005.

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