Earthfix

Washington state begins its public review Monday of what would be the nation’s largest oil-by-rail terminal in the country, slated to be built at the Port of Vancouver.

The hearings are one of the final steps in determining whether the project gets built.

The state will use five weeks of hearings to determine how to move forward with the Vancouver Energy Project, a joint venture backed by companies Tesoro and Savage.

Portland Bans Demolition Of Old Homes

Jun 25, 2016

Portland is the first city in the country to ban the demolition of its oldest homes.

The city will require that homes built in 1916 or before are deconstructed, so the materials inside can be salvaged.

The city council passed a resolution in favor of the demolition ban this winter. They’re set to review changes to the city code next Wednesday, with a vote likely following in early July.

About 20 percent of the waste in landfills comes from building construction and demolition, according to the mayor's office.

It’s Union Pacific’s fault. That’s the basic thrust of a preliminary report from federal railroad regulators on Thursday. It investigates why a nearly 100-car oil train partially derailed and caught fire in the Columbia River Gorge on June 3.

OPB's Kate Davidson spoke to Sarah Feinberg, the head of the Federal Railroad Administration to learn more. The following exchange has been edited for clarity and brevity.

You can hear their full conversation by clicking play on the audio player at the top of the article.

A new report from the Federal Railroad Administration released Thursday said Union Pacific is solely responsible for an oil train derailment earlier this month in the Columbia River Gorge.

The federal rail agency said in its preliminary findings that the derailment was caused by broken lag bolts that the railroad failed to maintain, which led to a widened track that caused the 16-car derailment.

“When it comes down to it, it’s Union Pacific’s failure to maintain its track led to this incident," said Sarah Feinberg, who heads up the Federal Rail Administration.

If you want to know how our relationship with wildlife has changed, consider how two different Seattle aquariums provided their visitors up-close encounters with one of the world’s largest predatory sharks.

In the 2000s, the Seattle Aquarium used underwater cameras so guests could watch sixgill sharks glide through the waters of Elliott Bay.

Union Pacific Locomotive Spills Fuel Near Troutdale

Jun 22, 2016

A 92-car Union Pacific train heading east spilled an undetermined amount of diesel fuel near Troutdale, Oregon, on Tuesday night.

The diesel leaked out of the locomotive. The cause was a fuel filter ring that failed, according to Justin Jacobs, a spokesman for Union Pacific.

The railroad has moved the locomotive to a location where officials can get a better sense of the amount of diesel that spilled.

Despite state and local calls for a moratorium, Union Pacific officials say they plan to resume sending crude oil through the Columbia River Gorge this week.

These would be the first trains carrying crude oil to pass on the Oregon side of the Gorge since the June 3 derailment in Mosier where 16 cars carrying crude oil left the tracks. The derailment spilled 42,000 gallons of crude oil and caused a fire that forced 100 people to evacuate their homes. The crash closed Interstate 84 for hours and left a small oil sheen on the Columbia River.

North Portland Residents Complain Of Flawed Air Testing

Jun 21, 2016

North Portland residents say state air testing in their neighborhood was flawed and doesn’t address their longstanding concerns about strong paint odors.

Neighbors of the Swan Island industrial area voiced their complaints Monday night at a forum at the University of Portland.

A crisp wind rakes the surface of Hood Canal, a narrow, 68-mile waterway and Puget Sound’s westernmost reach.

A group of divers emerges from the chop and wades ashore. They’ve just finished their first open-water dive.

“Congratulations. You’re certified,” said Callie Renfro, the dive instructor.

More NW E-Waste Recyclers Found Exporting

Jun 19, 2016

Businesses in Washington state's e-waste recycling program haven't been properly recycling all of the old electronics they collect, a Seattle-based watchdog group said Monday.

The non-profit Basel Action Network found that three Pacific Northwest recyclers shipped non-working electronics to China, despite pledges to recycle them responsibly in the state. The businesses are registered as approved recyclers through Washington state's electronics takeback program.

Mike Matheny’s daughter stood on tiptoes while hoisting a sign in the air behind a group of protesters blocking train tracks in Vancouver, Washington, on Saturday.

Police arrested 21 people who refused to vacate the tracks as they protested oil train activity in the Pacific Northwest.

In an unusual sign of tension between two of Oregon’s most powerful Democratic officeholders, U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio wrote a blistering letter to Gov. Kate Brown saying she appeared to mislead him on a controversial environmental issue.

DeFazio is a key congressional champion of recovering wolf populations that were once hunted to the point of extinction. In his June 9 letter, he criticized Brown and her staff for the way they handled a bill in the Oregon Legislature that could weaken protections for wolves.

Just after noon on June 3, the two-man Union Pacific crew hauling 96 cars of Tacoma-bound crude oil felt a tug on the train as they passed through the Columbia River Gorge.

The train’s emergency brakes triggered unexpectedly, according to railroad union leaders, indicating bad track or equipment failure could be to blame. The crew looked back and saw smoke — the beginnings of a fire that would burn for much of the night.

It’s been an unseasonably warm June week at Oregon’s Diamond Lake.

This makes for some lovely fishing weather, but it’s not ideal for fish stocking. And that’s what a small group of employees with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife are here for.

“As soon as Greg gives me the word, I’ll dump ‘em in,” says the fish deliveryman.

The thousands of fish traveled via small trailer through the night from a hatchery in Utah. The driver arrived about two hours early in an attempt to beat the heat.

Eugene Schools Find Lead In Water

Jun 14, 2016

The Eugene School District said Monday it found elevated lead levels in the water at four separate schools.

The elevated lead was found in one or more water faucets at Kennedy Middle School, Roosevelt Middle School, Sheldon High School and the district office.

According to the district, it announced the initial test results for Kennedy Middle School last week, but the lead level results for other campuses are new.

An environmental testing firm is confirming the results.

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