Earthfix

EarthFix Analysis
6:00 am
Tue January 14, 2014

Few Railcars Carrying Flammable Oil Get Inspected

A small percentage of trains carrying hazardous materials are inspected as they move through Oregon and Washington. Safety advocates and legislators are more concerned about what federal regulations allow than the fewer than 1 percent of cars found with safety violations.
Credit Flickr Photo/Russ Allison

As we researched a recent story about train shipments of oil, we asked Washington and Oregon officials: How many of the trains coming through the Northwest are inspected?

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Climate Change
9:29 am
Wed October 2, 2013

Hotter Summers Mean More Health Risks In Urban Heat Islands

HelenRuth Stephens has asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. She says hot weather drains her energy and makes it hard to breathe.
Cassandra Profita Earthfix

PORTLAND – On hot summer days, 74-year-old HelenRuth Stephens doesn't dare leave her apartment. Not to get the mail or take out the trash.

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Shellfish Poisoning
7:50 am
Tue October 1, 2013

Algal Blooms Becoming More Toxic With Warming Waters

The Williford family is all smiles today. But they weren't so happy when Jessica (far right) was the first person in the US with a documented case of diarrhetic shellfish poisoning. Climate change could make such illnesses more common.
Katie Campbell Earthfix

SAMMAMISH, Wash. — A photograph displayed in Jacki and John Williford’s home commemorates a camping trip that would go down in family history.

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Climate Change Health Risks
9:25 am
Mon September 30, 2013

How Farmworkers Experience A Warming Climate

For 20 years, Victor Gonzalez has traveled the Pacific Coast picking cherries, pears, and apples. He said he came close to passing out once from the heat. Migrant workers are particularly vulnerable to health problems from heat.
Courtney Flatt Earthfix

HOOD RIVER, Ore. — For 20 years, Victor Gonzales has traveled the West picking crops. In the Northwest that means pears, cherries and apples.

Right now, he’s working at a Hood River pear orchard. In the summer, temperatures here can reach 100 degrees. Gonzalez remembers one day when he’d been working really hard, sweating more than normal.

Gonzales felt like he was going to pass out. He was shaky and very sleepy, he says through a translator. Instead of sleeping, he went to the farmworker housing unit and drank a lot of water and rested until he recovered.

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Researching Amphibians
11:01 am
Wed August 7, 2013

Tracking An Alpine Frog That Chuckles And Beeps For Climate Change Research

The Cascades frog is only found in the alpine wetlands of the Pacific Northwest, though its range used to extend down to Northern California and up to British Columbia. Scientists are concerned its range will continue to shrink with climate change.
EarthFix Photo/Ashley Ahearn

Maureen Ryan scales rocky trails at 5,000 feet elevation as nimbly as the mountain goats that wandered through camp earlier this morning.

The researcher of amphibians leads her team of scientists down off a ridge line in the Seven Lakes Basin of Olympic National Park to her “lab,” you might call it. It’s a series of pothole wetlands cupped in the folds of these green, snow-studded mountains: a perfect habitat for Cascades frogs (Rana cascadae).

Ryan, a researcher with the University of Washington, is an expert on alpine amphibians. She’s also part of a group of scientists from around the region, coordinated by the Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative at the USGS, who are trying to understand and project how the warming climate will affect these frogs’ ability to feed, mate, and ultimately, survive.

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Oil Transportation
10:31 am
Tue July 9, 2013

Canada's Oil Train Disaster Sparks Northwest Concern

Freight train burning in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, Canada.
Flickr Photo/Transportation Safety Board of Canada

The weekend’s deadly oil-train derailment and explosion in the Canadian province of Quebec has raised concerns in the Pacific Northwest, where there are several proposals to increase the amount of oil transported into to the region by train.

By Monday afternoon the confirmed death toll had reached 13, with 50 people still missing after Saturday’s derailment of more than 70 tanker cars. They were filled with oil from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota — home of the largest oil boom in recent US history.

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Environmental News
10:28 am
Tue June 11, 2013

Environmental Update With Ashley Ahearn

The cleanup of the Duwamish River in Seattle is a continual hot topic in local environmental news.
Flickr Photo/Tom Sparks

 From the Duwamish River cleanup efforts to coal terminals to chuckling frogs; David Hyde talks with KUOW and EarthFix reporter Ashley Ahearn about the latest in Northwest environmental news. Plus, Ahearn talks about EarthFix’s upcoming documentary, "Voices of Coal: And EarthFix Multimedia Special."

Restoring The Elwha
7:25 am
Thu May 9, 2013

In Largest Dam Removal In US History, Which Fish Get To Recolonize?

Field technicians with the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe catch steelhead in a murky side channel near the mouth of the Elwha and prepare them to be transferred into pristine habitat above the former site of the lower dam.
Earthfix / Ashley Ahearn

From where Mike McHenry stands he can see several gray, torpedo-shaped bodies moving slowly through the brown water of this side channel of the Elwha River, not too far from the site of the largest dam removal project in US history.

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New Habitat Revealed
9:12 am
Wed May 8, 2013

Elwha River: Recovery Proceeds Despite Sediment Setbacks

The largest dam removal in US history has changed the face of Washington's Elwha River and scientists are trying to get a handle on what creatures are using the newly available habitat.
Earthfix / Ashley Ahearn

One of the two dams on the Elwha River has been completely removed and there are about 50 feet of the remaining Glines Canyon dam left. Already so much sediment has been released that it's clogged up and shut down one of the water treatment plants in nearby Port Angeles, temporarily halting the largest dam removal project in US history.

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