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.

Captain Dave Stauffer of Island Tug and Barge steers a cleaner tugboat these days. No longer is the Duwamish river tracked with exhaust from tugboats leaving behind diesel. Still, problems remain with the health of the people who live nearby.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Tugboat captain Dave Stauffer used to reek of diesel.

“It’s just the smell of a boat,” Stauffer says. “Just like standing by a fire, you’re going to get some of that smoke on your clothes.”

Stauffer’s wife also grew used to the smell. “She’d say, ‘That’s the smell of money,’” he says.

The drilling rig Noble Discoverer is shown in Alaska's Dutch Harbor before it went to the Arctic.
KUCB photo/John Ryan

Shell's two Arctic oil rigs pulled into Unalaska's Dutch Harbor on Sunday, some 1,100 miles south of the company's drilling site in the Chukchi Sea.

While Shell spokeswoman Megan Baldino said the rigs' final destinations are still being determined, they will not be returning to Seattle.

Every five years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department Health and Human Services convene an advisory committee to develop dietary guidelines based on the latest scientific and medical research. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines won't be released until later this year, but they're already generating debate.

When you think of a nuclear meltdown, a lifeless wasteland likely comes to mind — a barren environment of strewn ashes and desolation. Yet nearly 30 years after the disaster at the nuclear reactor in Chernobyl, in the former Soviet Union, a very different reality has long since taken root.

In and around Chernobyl, wildlife now teems in a landscape long abandoned by humans. The area has been largely vacant of human life since 31 people died in the catastrophe and cleanup.

A surgeon at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle said the serious burns to five electricians and dam operators injured in Thursday’s explosion at Priest Rapids Dam in central Washington are consistent with "arc flash."

Two workers injured in the explosion at a hydroelectric dam in central Washington remain in critical condition Friday afternoon with burns covering more than 20 percent of their bodies.

Could A Mushroom Save The Honeybee?

Oct 9, 2015

Honeybees need a healthy diet of pollen, nectar and water. But at a bee laboratory in eastern Washington state, Steve Sheppard fills their feeding tubes with murky brown liquid from the forest.

His bees are getting a healthy dose of mushroom juice.

"If this does what we hope, it will be truly revolutionary," says Sheppard, who heads the Department of Entomology at Washington State University. "Beekeepers are running out of options."

Flickr Photo/by and by (CC BY ND 2.0)/http://bit.ly/1MlDH1h

Ross Reynolds talks with University of Washington PhD student Kaeli Swift about her research into why crows gather around their dead. Read more about the crow research at the UW.

Updated -- Officials with the Grant County Public Utility District say an electrical equipment failure is to blame for an explosion at Priest Rapids Dam Thursday that injured six workers, two critically.

An explosion at a central Washington dam Thursday afternoon injured six workers, two critically. Harborview Medical Center in Seattle was treating five workers who were airlifted to the hospital, including two who were in critical condition. Three other patients are in satisfactory condition and being treated for burns.