environment | KUOW News and Information


Bill Radke speaks with Vancounver Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer about pollution coming from an American tug boat that ran aground in British Columbia a couple of weeks ago. The tug was pulling a fuel barge and while the fuel barge is fine, the tug is still stuck and it's leaking diesel. 

Bill Radke talks to Thaisa Way, professor of landscape architecture at the University of Washington, about the school's new Population Health Initiative. The University received a $210 million donation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation this week for a new building on campus that will house the project. 

United States commercial fisheries are doing fine overall, but fishermen on the West Coast are hurting. An 2015 annual report out Wednesday from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows a stark fall-off in the big seafood money-makers in the Pacific Northwest.

Nationally, 2015 was an above average year in terms of catch rate, commercial value and national seafood consumption.

White River starts on Mount Rainier where it picks up a lot of sediment that can lead to flooding downstream.
Flickr Photo/brewbooks (CC BY SA 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/ajniMm

Heavy rainfall puts stress on Seattle area rivers, especially White River between Auburn and Buckley.

The riverbed is gradually rising, and it can't hold as much water as it used to. That has county and weather officials taking extra steps to prepare for flooding.

Antarctica's ice has been melting, most likely because of a warming climate. Now, newly published research shows the rate of melting appears to be accelerating.

Antarctica is bigger than the U.S. and Mexico combined, and it's covered in deep ice — more than a mile deep in some places. Most of the ice sits on bedrock, but it slowly flows off the continent's edges. Along the western edge, giant glaciers creep down toward the sea. Where they meet the ocean, they form ice shelves.

A federal judge has approved Volkswagen's $14.7 billion settlement over the carmaker's vehicle emissions scandal. The process of compensating affected U.S. car owners is beginning now, with the first buybacks expected to happen within the next few weeks.

Under the terms of the deal, Volkswagen agrees to either buy back or repair vehicles involved in the scandal. That means paying as much as $10.033 billion to owners. In addition, the carmaker has come to an agreement with the United States under which it will pay nearly $5 billion in environmental remediation.

Sally Jewell has served as secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior for three and a half years. Before that she was CEO of Kent, Washington-based REI and a member of the UW Board of Regents.

Taking Down Snake River Dams: It's Back On The Table

Oct 21, 2016

Starting Monday people will get a chance to weigh-in on a controversial question: Should four dams come down on the lower Snake River? They’re facing renewed scrutiny because of a court-ordered analysis on how the dams are harming salmon.

Last May, a federal judge — for the fifth time — rejected the government’s plan for protecting threatened and endangered salmon in the Columbia River system. He said agencies must take a new look at all approaches to managing the dams — including breaching those on the lower Snake River in southeast Washington.

Last winter was the first time the Dungeness crab fishery in Oregon closed temporarily because of toxic algae in the ocean. And even just a week ago, another toxic bloom was happening off the coast.

Scientists are just beginning to understand what triggers these conditions. A study this month from Oregon State University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provides a rare peak below the waves.

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Toxic

About Tyrone Hayes's TED Talk

Biologist Tyrone Hayes talks about the concerning effects of the herbicide atrazine, which is part of a group of chemicals that are found in everyday food and household products.

About Tyrone Hayes

Opponents of a methanol plant proposed in Kalama, Washington, are challenging the environmental review of the project.

The Chinese-backed facility would convert natural gas to methanol, which would then be shipped overseas to be made into plastic. If it's built as proposed on the lower Columbia River, it will be the world's largest gas-to-methanol plant.

Hanford Workers' Skin Exposed To Radioactive Waste

Oct 19, 2016

At least 10 Hanford workers were exposed to radioactive waste Tuesday at the nuclear cleanup site’s tank farm in southeast Washington.

Workers were removing a connection line that’s used to transfer radioactive waste between tanks when the contamination was detected. A test found radioactive waste on the workers’ skin and clothing. The contractor, Washington River Protection Solutions, says the contamination was low.

Tom Carpenter, who heads the worker advocacy group, Hanford Challenge, disputed that characterization.

Bill Radke talks with Vancouver Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer about what Washington state can learn about British Columbia's carbon tax, and why Palmer was not completely on board with the video love letter some Canadians made for the U.S. 

Imagine a stretch of water so dangerous even huge ships can’t cross it safely. A place sailors call the “graveyard,” where hundreds of boats have sunk and thousands of people have drowned.

Now imagine this place is crucial to the global economy, and like it or not, shipping vessels must enter it every day to keep things moving and avoid economic collapse.

Such a place exists in the Pacific Northwest. The Columbia River Bar, located at the intersection of the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean, is considered one of the most dangerous stretches of water in the world.

Gov. Kate Brown is promising “sweeping change” from the new state air pollution rule-making process now underway.