environment

April 1 is, on average, generally considered the date of the peak snowpack in the Northwest. And around now, is when many irrigation districts begin filling their canals to get ready for watering season.

There are grounds for optimism as well as caution.

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

An oil refinery on Puget Sound wants to ship a raw material for plastic overseas, and some environmental groups say that's a bad idea. 

The Tesoro refinery in Anacortes, Washington, is proposing a $400 million expansion.

The upgraded refinery could make cleaner, low-sulfur gasoline and ship up to five tankers a month of the chemical known as xylene to Asia.

Seattle restaurant magnate Tom Douglas came out of his kitchen Wednesday to host a conference for chefs on the science connecting the food they serve and the environment from where it comes.

“More and more chefs are counted upon for knowing what is going on in our food supply chain. I want to know more about the system. I want to know what I as a chef should be supporting through purchases,” said Douglas, who operates more than a dozen restaurants, hosts a radio show and markets his own line of kitchen products and cookbooks.

An orca pod travels past the Seattle skyline. A new study shows that pods are most likely led by older females.
Courtesy of NOAA/Candice Emmons

Bill Radke speaks with Joe Gaydos, chief scientist for the University of California Davis Wildlife on Orcas Island, about the creation of individual health care records for all the resident orcas in Puget Sound. 

Five years after an earthquake and tsunami damaged the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, Japanese authorities say a long-planned "ice wall" around the leaking facility can be turned on.

The underground refrigeration system that should create the frozen barrier was completed last month — more than a year behind schedule, The Associated Press reports.

Washington state lawmakers have flushed a proposed ban on state business travel to Victoria, British Columbia. The travel restriction surfaced last month in one version of a state budget. It was meant to pressure Victoria to stop dumping raw sewage into shared border waters.

On a cold night in January 2012, Dustin Bergsing climbed on top of a crude oil storage tank in North Dakota's Bakken oil field. His job was to open the hatch on top and drop a rope inside to measure the level of oil. But just after midnight, a co-worker found him dead, slumped next to the open hatch.

Klamath Forest Wildfire Plan Faces Pushback

Mar 29, 2016

During the summer of 2014, wildfires burned more than 200,000 acres of the Klamath National Forest in northern California’s Siskiyou County. Last year, the U.S. Forest Service proposed a program of salvage logging, replanting and hazardous tree removal. That plan faced opposition from environmental groups and the Karuk Indian tribe. Now, a modified version of the plan has been approved, and was immediately met with a challenge in federal court.

Lisa Herbold at the former Linda Manor Apartments in West Seattle’s Gatewood neighborhood.
KUOW Photo/Jason Pagano

Bill Radke speaks with Seattle City Councilmember Lisa Herbold about residents in her West Seattle district that illegally cut down over 150 trees to improve their view. 

Adopt A Beehive — Save A Beekeeper?

Mar 29, 2016

Beekeeper Nick French never knows what he'll find when he opens up his hives for the first spring inspections. Of the 40 hives he manages in Parker, Colo., French loses about one-quarter of his colonies every year.

"I work all summer long to raise healthy bees, but there are no guarantees they'll make it through the winter," says French, founder of Frangiosa Farm.

Oregon’s water is tested for suspended solids, certain chemicals and heavy metals — but not for pharmaceuticals.

With prescription drug use on the rise unused meds too often end up in the landfill or flushed down the toilet. In Oregon, Lane County agencies are stepping up their message of what to do with unwanted drugs.

Sarah Grimm, the waste reduction specialist for Lane County Public Works, said she's seeing a problem in her industry: pharmaceutical meds being flushed down the toilet.

Japanese Fleet Kills 333 Whales In The Antarctic

Mar 25, 2016

Japan's whaling fleet has returned to base with the carcasses of 333 minke whales, in apparent violation of a ruling by the International Court of Justice.

Reuters quoted a statement by Japan's Fisheries Agency that said 103 male and 230 female whales were caught during the fleet's summer expedition to Antarctic waters. Ninety percent of the mature females were pregnant.

In January and February, armed anti-federalists took over a wildlife refuge in Oregon for 41 days.

Air testing conducted early this month near two Portland glassmakers shows no urgent health risks, according to the Oregon Health Authority.

Data collected from five monitors running 24 hours a day March 1-8 show no change in levels of metals in the air from the February testing results, and short-term health risk remains low, officials announced Thursday.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is planning to release its proposed Portland Harbor Superfund Site cleanup plan early next month.

The plan, 16 years in the making, will include the agency’s preferred option for cleaning up a 10-mile stretch of the Willamette River that’s highly contaminated from more than a century of industrial use. The EPA has spent years investigating the site and developing a range of options for reducing contamination to an “acceptable” level.

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