Deschutes Fish Die-Offs Tied To Water Management

Oct 16, 2015

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife estimates that 500-1,000 fish died recently because of low water in the Upper Deschutes River. The fish kills are a recent annual occurrence tied to water management in the basin.

The Upper Deschutes is fed from the Wickiup Reservoir. A few weeks ago, river flows were about 2,000 cubic feet per second. But once irrigators were done with water for the season, dam operators cut back water releases by at least 75 percent.

Tsunami warning sirens wailed up and down the Washington coast Thursday. Students, businesses and medical workers drilled for an earthquake and tsunami as part of an annual event called "The Great Shakeout."

Contaminated Soil Lingers Where Apples Once Grew

Oct 16, 2015
Jennifer Garcia with her daughter, Hannah, 2. Garcia found out the soil in her yard tested high for arsenic. It’s left over from pesticides sprayed before the 1950s on this same piece of land, when it was an orchard.
EarthFix/Lena Jackson

YAKIMA, Wash. -- At homes and day care centers throughout Central Washington, children play in yards contaminated with lead and arsenic.

The state’s Department of Ecology knows about this, and has for decades.

Like all business owners, farmers want to get paid for their work. Sometimes, that work creates problems for the environment, so regulators are advancing the idea of creating environmental markets to allow farmers to make money off of their conservation practices.

Under plans in development, farmers could generate environmental credits by farming in ways that store carbon, filter out water pollution, or preserve wildlife habitat. Those credits could be bought, sold, and traded by companies that need to balance out their own emissions or pollution.

Washington officials are delaying the environmental review of a proposed coal export terminal on the Columbia River.

The Washington Department of Ecology and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were scheduled to complete their joint environmental reviews next month for the Millennium Bulk Terminals coal export project in Longview, Wash.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The latest El Niño forecast report is out from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and it looks like the drought will continue into next year for most of Washington.

Consumer drones look like child's play after you get a look at the unmanned, water-dropping helicopter that was pitched to the federal government Wednesday. The K-MAX chopper is the largest of several remotely-piloted firefighting aircraft to get a tryout this year.

More than 1.5 million Northwesterners signed up to take part in this year's "Great ShakeOut" on Thursday morning. While "drop, cover and hold" is part of the annual earthquake safety drill everywhere, some coastal schools and offices followed up with tsunami evacuation practice.

Highway sign on a road entering the Hanford Site
Wikipedia Photo/Ellery (CC BY SA 3.0)/http://bit.ly/1LnhFqH

David Hyde speaks with attorney Richard Eymann about the history of 'Hanford downwinders' -- people who believed they suffered health problems after being exposed to radiation from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

Tips For Staying Safe Around Contaminated Soil

Oct 15, 2015

Millions of acres of farm and orchard land in the United States have been converted to residential uses. In some cases, old pesticides could still be in the soil, even from spraying that occurred decades ago.

How A Banned Chemical Helped Clean Up Washington’s Orchards

Oct 15, 2015

Imagine an apple, rotten at its core, pocked with worm holes and brown, pasty insect excrement spilling out the side. Now imagine an apple free of insects but coated in lead and arsenic, like a candied apple of toxic metal. Which would you rather eat?

In the 1930s that was the orchardist’s dilemma. Succumb to the codling moth and its lust for apples, or fight the pest the only way you knew how.

Today, you don’t have to make that choice. And you have the banned chemical DDT to thank in part for that.

A liable party makes a world of difference for Washington’s Department of Ecology. When the agency finds pollution, being able to point the finger at a specific company means funding for its cleanup programs.

That’s what happened in Tacoma, where the state won a $95 million settlement in 2009 with Asarco, which operated a smelter in the area. It left lead and arsenic contamination throughout more than 400,000 acres of Pierce and King counties.

For the fifth time in 15 years, the state of Washington is fighting the federal government in court over Hanford cleanup. The state’s top cleanup watchdog in Richland -- who grew up just downstream from the nuclear site -- plays a major role in that case

On Thursday, the Odense Zoo in Denmark is scheduled to dissect a lion for the educational benefit of children on school holidays.

The 9-month-old female lion was considered "surplus." Officials at Odense said they had too many female lions. They also were concerned about inbreeding, according to reports. The lion was offered to other zoos, but when no takers were found she was killed earlier this year and stored in a freezer.