News

Exxon Valdez
2:07 am
Mon March 24, 2014

25 Years After Spill, Alaska Town Struggles Back From 'Dead Zone'

Orca Inlet, Cordova's fishing harbor, on a blustery day this month. Commercial fishing is the small Alaskan town's primary industry.
Marisa Peñaloza NPR

Originally published on Mon March 24, 2014 9:25 am

On March 24, 1989, the tanker Exxon Valdez struck a reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska, spilling 11 million gallons of crude oil into the pristine water. At the time, it was the single biggest spill in U.S. history. In a series of stories, NPR is examining the lasting social and economic impacts of the disaster, as well as the policy, regulation and scientific research that came out of it.

It's a blustery, snowy March day when Michelle Hahn O'Leary offers a tour of Cordova, Alaska, situated on the eastern shore of Prince William Sound.

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Geology
8:06 pm
Sun March 23, 2014

Site Near Oso Had Previous Landslides, Potential For More

An image from Google Earth, taken before the current slide, shows the scars from a landslide that took place at the same spot in 2006.
Credit Google Earth

Satellite images show the area on the Stillaguamish River near Oso, Washington, experienced a landslide in 2006. According to the Sliding Thought Blog, the "Hazel Landslide" that year was caused by groundwater and erosion by the north fork of the river.

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Safer Streets
9:18 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Seattle To Let Pedestrians Walk More Slowly

Cars and pedestrians compete for space in a busy Rainier Valley crosswalk.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

The city of Seattle is re-timing traffic signals throughout the city to make crosswalks safer for all pedestrians.

A study conducted by a group of graduate students at the University of Washington School of Public Health in 2013 found that traffic signals in Rainier Valley force pedestrians to cross faster than signals on Market Street in the wealthier and whiter neighborhood of Ballard.

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Affordable Care Act
8:59 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Independent Audit Outlines Problems At Cover Oregon

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber called the audit of Cover Oregon a ' sobering critique' of the state's health insurance exchange.
Office of the Governor

Originally published on Thu March 20, 2014 2:53 pm

According to a scathing audit from an independent consultant, Oregon's health insurance exchange was riddled with internal conflict and unrealistic expectations.

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Cost Savings
7:53 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Washington Reports An 'Unprecedented' Drop In Medicaid ER Visits

Flickr Photo/Micheal J (CC BY-NC-ND)

A year after hospitals began discouraging Medicaid patients from making unnecessary emergency room visits, the results are promising. A new state report shows the number of unnecessary visits to ERs in Washington fell by 10 percent last year.  

“A 10 percent reduction is almost unprecedented,” said Dr. Nathan Schlicher, an ER physician at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tacoma.

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EarthFix Reports
7:29 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Puget Sound Tidal Energy Project Approved By Feds

A crew deploying a "sea spider" in 2011 to collect data from the floor of Puget Sound in Admiralty Inlet. That test was one of many steps that led the way to federal energy regulators' approval of a tidal energy project in that location.
Credit EarthFix Photo/Ashley Ahearn

Puget Sound tides may soon be generating power. A proposal for the world’s first grid-connected tidal energy project received a federal license Thursday. The project has been almost eight years in the making.

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Agriculture
5:15 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Washington Fruit Farmers Scramble To Irrigate From Lowered Columbia River

Frosty Hansen, 74, of Wenatchee, Wash., says many of his neighbors can't reach the Columbia River with thier irrigation pipes. He plans to pump water for them until the Wanapum Dam can be repaired.
Anna King Northwest News Network

Originally published on Thu March 20, 2014 6:07 pm

Dam engineers are continuing to keep the pool behind the ailing structure drawn down to relieve pressure.

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Environment
5:08 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Fish Experts Plan A Salmon Water Slide On Cracked Wanapum Dam

File photo of the fish ladder at John Day Dam on the Columbia River. The fish ladders at the Wanapum and the Rock Island dams are dry.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Originally published on Fri March 21, 2014 3:24 pm

The ongoing issue with the cracked Wanapum Dam in central Washington is now creating a problem for migrating salmon.

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Weather
5:05 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Spring Outlook Looks Warm For Coastal Northwest, 'Normal' Spring Inland

The National Weather Service's outlook calls for above-normal temperatures along the West Coast.
NOAA Climate Prediction Center

Originally published on Thu March 20, 2014 3:47 pm

The spring seasonal outlook from the National Weather Service calls for a warmer-than-average spring west of the Cascades and normal temperatures and rainfall across the inland Northwest.

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Crimea Annexation
8:54 am
Thu March 20, 2014

U.S. To Impose Sanctions On More Russian Officials

President Obama on the south lawn of the White House Thursday as he spoke about new sanctions on some Russian officials.
Kevin Dietsch UPI/Landov

Originally published on Thu March 20, 2014 6:23 pm

More senior Russian officials are being added to the list of those who the U.S. will seek to penalize for their nation's interference in Ukraine's affairs, President Obama announced Thursday morning.

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EarthFix Reports
8:35 am
Thu March 20, 2014

Wildlife Agency May Stop Tracking Wandering Wolf OR-7

A photo captured an image of the wolf, OR-7, during his time across the Oregon border in Northern California.
California Department of Game

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 5:01 pm

Oregon’s famous wandering wolf OR-7 may soon be dropping off the maps.

State wildlife officials announced that they don’t plan to recollar the wolf – meaning that his future travels across the West would no longer be tracked. And that means his path would no longer be mapped for the world to follow on the Internet.

OR-7 was born in 2009 into the Imnaha Pack in Northeastern Oregon. He was fitted with a GPS collar in 2011.

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Drunk Driving
7:26 am
Thu March 20, 2014

Washington's New 24/7 Sobriety Program Runs Into Snags

Commander Jim Rich of the Centralia Police Department displays the breath test machine used for the 24/7 Sobriety pilot program.
Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 6:17 pm

It’s been nearly a year since a repeat drunk driver caused a horrific accident in north Seattle.

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Russian Annexation
4:41 am
Thu March 20, 2014

Ukrainian Troops' Departure From Crimea Isn't A Simple Matter

A Russian flag flies behind him Thursday as a Ukrainian soldier leaves what was one of his military's bases outside Simferopol, on the Crimean Peninsula. Local "self-defense forces," followed by Russian troops, have seized many strategic locations.
Yuri Kochetkov EPA/Landov

Originally published on Thu March 20, 2014 3:36 pm

Ukraine's plans to withdraw its troops from Crimea, which as we reported were announced Wednesday, have apparently been complicated by the issue of whether they will be allowed to take their weapons and other equipment with them.

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EarthFix Reports
4:11 am
Thu March 20, 2014

Stopping A Stink Bug Invasion

Northwest researchers are teaming up to stop an invasion of stink bugs moving across the region. The bugs, which can smell like dirty gym socks, ruin tree fruit and grape vines.
Flickr Photo/Armed Forces Pest Management Board (CC BY-NC-ND)

You have to go through three airlocked doors to get to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s stink bug research lab.

The quarantined, closet-sized room has its own ventilation system. The brown marmorated stink bug colony is kept inside an even smaller room within the lab.

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Economy
4:10 am
Thu March 20, 2014

Unemployment Rate Holds Steady In Washington, Dips In Oregon

Washington Employment Security Department

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 3:31 pm

Washington state's unemployment rate held steady in February at 6.4 percent according to fresh numbers from the state Employment Security Department.

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