environment

Radioactive Waste
9:05 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Hanford Contractor Fails To Check Radioactive Tanks For Months

Tobin Fricke Wikimedia

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 4:09 pm

For eight months, a federal contractor at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation failed to check some single-shell radioactive waste tanks for the buildup of hydrogen gas.

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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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Cannabis Runoff
8:09 am
Mon January 13, 2014

California's Pot Farms Could Leave Salmon Runs Truly Smoked

This dead juvenile coho salmon was found in a tributary of California's South Fork Eel River. About 20 large-scale marijuana farms are located upstream from the watershed pictured. All of them divert water from the stream.
Courtesy Scott Bauer

Originally published on Mon January 13, 2014 2:08 pm

For many users and advocates of marijuana, the boom in the West Coast growing industry may be all good and groovy. But in California, critics say the recent explosion of the marijuana industry along the state's North Coast — a region called the "emerald triangle" — could put a permanent buzz kill on struggling salmon populations.

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Clean Rigs
12:12 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Immigrant Investors Could Finance Green Trucks For Green Cards

Paul Jerry Wikimedia

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 7:46 am

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has approved an unusual way for prospective immigrants to earn a U.S. green card and permanent residency.

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EarthFix Reports
10:06 am
Fri January 10, 2014

Oil, Rail Companies Offer Little Information About Shipments

Rail and oil companies do not have to disclose how many DOT-111 tanker cars travel through the Northwest. DOT-111 tanker cars, which exploded in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, and killed 47 people, have a design flaw and are easily punctured.
Credit Transportation Safety Board of Canada

The oil-by-rail boom is underway, and with that, several high-profile, fiery derailments.  

But state officials don't have the information they need to prepare for an oil train mishap because railroad and oil companies are not required to disclose much on shipments or response strategies.

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Circle Of Life
12:00 am
Fri January 10, 2014

When Big Carnivores Go Down, Even Vegetarians Take The Hit

Ask not for whom the wolf stalks ...
Holly Kuchera iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 9:45 am

Big, fierce animals — lions and tigers and bears, for example — are relatively scarce in nature. That's normal, because if you have too many, they'll eat themselves out of prey.

But top predators are now so rare that many are in danger of disappearing. That's creating ripple effects throughout the natural world that scientists are still trying to figure out.

What they're exploring is ecology — the interplay of animals and plants in nature. It's not rocket science. It's harder.

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Transportation
2:44 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

More Pathways Needed To Cross The Ship Canal

The Ship Canal Bridge with downtown Seattle in the background.
Flickr Photo/Seattle Munincipal Archives

Marcie Sillman talks with Ben Schiendelman about the growing need for increased transportation across the Lake Washington ship canal.

Environment
2:44 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

How Far Along Is Puget Sound Partnership In Cleaning Up The Sound?

A view of Puget Sound from above.
Flickr Photo/David Prasad

Ross Reynolds talks with Joan Crooks, executive director of the Washington Environmental Council, about the progress made by the Puget Sound Partnership in restoring the health of Puget Sound.

EarthFix Reports
10:37 am
Thu January 9, 2014

Report: Bellingham Bay A Hostile Place For Small Marine Creatures

Brittle stars are sensitive to stressful environmental conditions and were absent or rarely found in a survey of Bellingham Bay's sediment.
Credit Clifton Herrmann

A wide array of tiny marine critters are struggling to survive in Bellingham Bay, according to a recently released report from the Washington Department of Ecology.

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Coal Terminal
7:39 am
Wed January 8, 2014

Wall Street Giant Backs Away From Washington Coal Export Project

Goldman Sachs has parted ways with a proposal to export 48 million tons of Wyoming Coals through a terminal near Bellingham, Wash.
Katie Campbell

Originally published on Tue January 7, 2014 4:35 pm

A multinational banking giant is backing away from a proposal to build the West Coast’s biggest coal export project near Bellingham, Washington.

New York-based Goldman Sachs has sold its stock back to the companies proposing to build the Gateway Pacific Terminal. If built it would transfer 48 million tons of Wyoming coal each year from trains to ocean-going vessels bound for Asia.

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EarthFix Reports
1:07 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Washington Officials Say Shellfish Is Safe For China To Import

Credit Flickr Photo/USDAgov

Washington state officials said Tuesday they found lower contamination levels when they tested geoduck clams than those alleged by China when it said geoduck imported from Puget Sound had high levels of arsenic.

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Bycatch
1:00 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Whales, Dolphins Are Collateral Damage In Our Taste For Seafood

A sperm whale entangled in a drift net. A report says commercial fisheries around the world kill or injure 650,000 mammals a year.
Alberto Romero Marine Photobank

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 7:29 pm

Hundreds of thousands of marine mammals are injured or killed every year by fishermen around the world. And because most seafood in the U.S. is imported, that means our fish isn't as dolphin-friendly as you might expect.

Under pressure from conservation groups, federal regulators are preparing to tighten import standards to better protect marine mammals.

There was a time, more than 40 years ago, when U.S. fishermen killed millions of dolphins while fishing for tuna. After a public backlash, fishermen figured out how to minimize that so-called bycatch.

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EarthFix Reports
9:15 am
Mon January 6, 2014

Oregon Bill Would Limit Household Pesticide Use To Protect Bees

Lori Vollmer, owner of Garden Fever nursery in Portland, removed pesticides containing neonicotinoid chemicals from her store shelves after an estimated 50,000 bumblebees were killed in Wilsonville.
Cassandra Profita

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 1:30 pm

An Oregon lawmaker is looking to restrict household use of four common pesticides that pose risks to bees.

Rep. Jeff Reardon, D-Portland, says given the toxicity of certain pesticides and their track record for killing bees, untrained home gardeners shouldn't be allowed to use them.

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EarthFix Reports
10:03 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Feds: Crude Oil Headed For Northwest Poses ‘Significant Risk’

BNSF Railway moves the majority of Bakken oil from North Dakota to refineries in the Northwest.
Flickr Photo/Roy Luck

An alert, issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation on Thursday said that the crude oil coming out of the Bakken formation of North Dakota poses a “significant risk” because it is more flammable than traditional heavy crude.

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Environment And Health
12:24 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Why Ending Malaria May Be More About Backhoes Than Bed Nets

Yonta, 6, rests with her brother Leakhena, 4 months, under a mosquito bed net in the Pailin province of Cambodia, where deaths from malaria have decreased sharply in the past two decades.
Paula Bronstein Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 5:16 am

Wiping out malaria is a top goal for many leaders in global health.

Fewer people are dying now from the mosquito-borne disease than at any other time in history. "And there's a very, very strong belief now that malaria can be eliminated," says Joy Phumaphi, who chairs the African Leaders Malaria Alliance.

But when you look at the overall numbers on malaria, eradication almost seems like a pipe dream.

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