environment

Forest Service lichenologist Sarah Jovan hardly has to walk half a block from her office in downtown Portland to find the type of shaggy, green moss she used to discover the city’s hidden hot spots of toxic air pollution.

“I mean, it’s just everywhere,” she said. “You can see it on all these trees here, across the street. For a sample you’d need probably a couple handfuls.”

A tree fell on Sunday, March 14, 2016 on 112th Street Northeast, east of Forbes Creek Drive in Kirkland.
KUOW Photo/Kim Malcolm

Bill Radke speaks with Washington State climatologist Nick Bond about some of the reasons behind the very active weather the region has been experiencing recently.

Derek Bowen is standing on top of small, enclosed trailer, at the edge of a grassy park in Eugene. It’s overcast and misty but an acronym on the side of this air monitoring station is clear: LRAPA – Lane Regional Air Protection Agency.

Bowen comes down a ladder with a small cylindrical filter in hand. It's been collecting super-tiny particles from car exhaust and wood burning that get lodged in people’s lungs.

Portland environmental photographer Gary Braasch described himself as a witness to climate change. He dedicated himself to making images that helped the rest of the world witness it too. Braasch died this week while snorkeling and photographing Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

After warning Oregon that its rules don’t adequately protect water in coastal streams from logging, two federal agencies are denying the state $1.2 million in grant funds.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration sent a letter this week notifying the state’s natural resources director that Oregon hasn’t done enough to prevent pollution from forestry practices like logging and road building.

Federal energy regulators Friday denied an application to build a liquefied natural gas terminal and accompanying pipeline in Southern Oregon.

In a 25-page final order, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission didn’t focus on the Jordan Cove LNG terminal itself. Instead they pointed to the Pacific Connector Pipeline, which would have brought natural gas 230 miles from south-central Oregon to Coos Bay. From there it would be liquefied and put on ships bound for Asia.

Five years after an earthquake and tsunami caused a series of meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in Japan, there are signs of progress. Many workers cleaning up the ruined plant no longer need to suit up in full respirators. Some nearby villages that were evacuated are open to residents.

But there are still plenty of problems.

Plastic makes great food packaging. It's waterproof and flexible. And best of all, it's impervious to all known bacteria — until now. Researchers have found a bacterium in the debris fields around a recycling plant in Japan that can feed off a common type of plastic used in clothing, plastic bottles and food packaging.

Activist Abby Brockway was part of a panel discussing civil disobedience in response to climate change.
Courtesy of Rising Tide Seattle

Would you risk arrest and prosecution to protect the environment? Or empathize with those who do? Humanities Washington made this the focus of their most recent Think & Drink: “The Necessity Defense: Climate Change and Civil Disobedience.”

KUOW’s Ashley Ahearn served as moderator. The panel included activist Abby Brockway and UW professors Richard Gammon and Megan Ming Francis. Brie Ripley recorded their conversation at Naked City Brewery on Feb.17. 

Government agencies announced Wednesday that the health risk around Portland glass manufacturers is low.

The DEQ said Wednesday that it took 67 soil samples from the area around Bullseye Glass in southeast Portland. Samples were taken from a Fred Meyer parking lot, a day care center and Powell Park.

The samples were tested for arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and several other elements.

They found that most heavy metals were at background levels. But there were a few samples that showed elevated levels.

Erin Meeker lives within a half mile of Bullseye Glass in Portland. Her 2-year-old goes to daycare across the street from the artistic glass factory.

Meeker is one of the seven people who’ve filed a lawsuit against the glassmaker with help from the Seattle law firm Keller Rohrback.

“My No. 1 concern is our health and our neighbor’s health,” she said.

SeaWorld says the health of one of its best-known killer whales is deteriorating. Tilikum is the orca that killed SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010 — her death and SeaWorld's treatment of its killer whales were at the center of the documentary Blackfish.

The recent discovery of heavy metal pollution in some Portland neighborhoods has left residents wondering whether they should see a doctor.

Multnomah County Health Department said Friday those most exposed are those who spent significant amounts of time within half a mile of Bullseye and Uroborus Glass. Those are the two art-glass makers linked to high levels of arsenic, cadmium and chromium pollution in Southeast and North Portland.

The artistic glass maker at the center of Portland’s toxic air pollution controversy is taking steps to control its emissions.

Bullseye Glass submitted a notice Friday to Multnomah County that it intends to install a pollution filtration system called a baghouse. It’s meant to capture particulate that would otherwise escape from the company’s glass-melting furnace.

March 11 marks the fifth anniversary of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Visitors to the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport, Oregon, can now feast their eyes on a living legacy of that quake and tsunami.

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