environment

Air testing found elevated levels of nickel, hexavalent chromium and arsenic near the Southeast Portland manufacturing company Precision Castparts between March 30 and May 4.

The levels were above the state's health-based goals for air quality but below what would cause acute health risks for people nearby. Officials say there is no immediate public health threat from exposure to heavy metal air pollution in the area.

Marijuana cultivation is estimated to use one percent of America’s electricity output. That’s enough juice to power 1.7 million average homes.

And as more states make the drug legal in some form, that power consumption is expected to soar. Northwest energy officials project cannabis grows will suck up three percent of the region’s power by 2035.

Now, efforts are underway to get growers to reduce their energy use.

John Kagia cuts right to the chase.

“Indoor cannabis cultivation is extraordinarily energy intensive," he flatly states.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown issued a cease and desist order Thursday against Bullseye Glass Co. in Portland.

The move comes after the Department of Environmental Quality found toxic levels of lead in air monitors near a daycare facility.

DEQ officials recorded lead levels at three times the 24-hour benchmark. Exposure to lead has been shown to decrease IQ levels in children.

Officials say thousands of cormorants abandoned their nests last weekend on an island in the Columbia River and they don’t know why. Reports indicate as many as 16,000 adult birds in the colony left their eggs behind to be eaten by predators including eagles, seagulls and crows.

The birds' mysterious departure comes after the latest wave of government-sanctioned cormorant shooting. It's part of a campaign to reduce the population of birds that are eating imperiled Columbia River salmon.

NW E-Cycle Programs Tested By Electronic Waste Exports

May 19, 2016

When Washington state inspectors visited the Seattle recycling operation Total Reclaim in March, they found several problems with its handling of hazardous waste. They missed the biggest one.

They discovered an improperly labeled trash can full of shop towels. They noted Total Reclaim’s failure to check a box on a form identifying itself as a recycler of dangerous waste. They found open buckets full of oil.

Increased carbon emissions are putting Puget Sound Dungeness crabs at risk, according to new research from the Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle.

When fossil fuels burn, carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere and much of it is eventually absorbed by the ocean.

Protesters Call For Feds To Stop Killing Cormorants

May 17, 2016

Dozens of protesters rallied outside the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office in Portland Tuesday, calling for federal officials to stop killing cormorants on the Columbia River.

They carried signs with pictures of the black seabirds with yellow beaks and banners calling for officials to "fix the dams" and "end the slaughter."

Federal agents have killed more than 4,500 cormorants in the past two years to keep them from eating threatened and endangered juvenile salmon.

The out-of-control wildfire burning in northern Alberta has fire officials south of the border casting a nervous eye toward the summer.

The latest news that the Canadian blaze has moved into oil fields after destroying parts of an entire city comes as the U.S. Forest Service issues its annual wildfire forecast for the Western United States Tuesday.

Joe Burnison works as a deckhand aboard Loki, a salmon gillnetting boat in Puget Sound. Loki is owned by one of his oldest friends, Jonah Knutson. Both men grew up in West Seattle. Joe Burnison works as a deckhand aboard Loki, a salmon gillnetting boat in
KUOW Photo/Mike Kane

With his dark-rimmed glasses, Jonah Knutson doesn’t look like the salty fisherman.

But he smells like it.

An air tanker drops red fire retardant on a wildfire near Twisp, Wash., Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015.
FLICKR PHOTO/BEN BROOKS (CC BY-SA 2.0) HTTP://BIT.LY/1KSV09N

State officials are investigating the causes of two forest fires northeast of Seattle.

With no lightning reported in the Oso or Gold Bar areas where the fires started, officials suspect they were caused by humans, either accidentally or intentionally.

Timber-dependent counties, environmental groups and a Native American tribe are formally protesting a plan to manage 2.5 million acres of public land in Western Oregon.

Is your brick building at serious risk in an earthquake?
Flickr Photo/Helen Cook (CC BY SA 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/poMYZ

Kim Malcolm speaks with Seattle Times reporter Sandi Doughton about why Seattle still has over a thousand unreinforced masonry buildings (full list here), despite knowledge of their danger in an earthquake and the availability of technology to make them safer.

Doughton is co-author with Daniel Gilbert of the article, "Buildings that kill: The earthquake danger lawmakers have ignored for decades."  

Nearly 100 Tiny Quakes Shake Area Around Mount Hood

May 16, 2016

Mount Hood is trembling. They’re not big tremors. But there are a lot of them.

Close to 100 tiny quakes shook the area around Mount Hood Village between 6 p.m. Sunday night and Monday morning.

The largest had a magnitude of 1.9, meaning people didn’t actually feel it.

The U.S. Geological Survey said a quake has to reach a magnitude of 3 before people actually feel it — and even then, they’d have to be sitting quietly, likely on the upper floors of a building.

They came on kayaks and on bikes. They hunkered down in hammocks and on train tracks. They marched at refineries and did morning yoga at mines.

For nearly two weeks, demonstrators on six continents gathered to protest climate change — and, in particular, the fossil fuel industry.

In Washington state, 52 people were arrested Sunday after they camped out on train tracks servicing oil refineries in northern Puget Sound, Ashley Ahearn of member station KUOW reported for our Newscast unit.

In Florida, homeowners have a propensity for landscaping. They take great pride in the green carpet of grass in front of their homes. But one Florida man is working on a project that's turning his neighbors' lawns into working farms.

Chris Castro has an obsession — turning the perfectly manicured lawns in his Orlando neighborhood into mini-farms.

"The amount of interest in Orlando is incredibly surprising," Castro says.

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