Oregon | KUOW News and Information

Oregon

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said she won't debate her Republican challenger until September at the earliest. The incumbent Democrat's announcement Wednesday came days after she turned down an appearance at the traditional opening debate of the campaign season.

Union Pacific Locomotive Spills Fuel Near Troutdale

Jun 22, 2016

A 92-car Union Pacific train heading east spilled an undetermined amount of diesel fuel near Troutdale, Oregon, on Tuesday night.

The diesel leaked out of the locomotive. The cause was a fuel filter ring that failed, according to Justin Jacobs, a spokesman for Union Pacific.

The railroad has moved the locomotive to a location where officials can get a better sense of the amount of diesel that spilled.

Oregon is getting some federal aid to help pay for damages sustained during a series of strong winter storms. The severe weather included strong winds and heavy rains that triggered flooding and mudslides over the course of two weeks last December.

The old adage that every vote counts was especially true in Oregon this year. A tie in the Independent Party primary for a suburban Portland seat in the Oregon House was broken Friday with a roll of the dice.

In an unusual sign of tension between two of Oregon’s most powerful Democratic officeholders, U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio wrote a blistering letter to Gov. Kate Brown saying she appeared to mislead him on a controversial environmental issue.

DeFazio is a key congressional champion of recovering wolf populations that were once hunted to the point of extinction. In his June 9 letter, he criticized Brown and her staff for the way they handled a bill in the Oregon Legislature that could weaken protections for wolves.

Four county governments in Oregon are still struggling enough that the state should continue to monitor their financial condition. That's according to a state audit released Tuesday.

It’s been an unseasonably warm June week at Oregon’s Diamond Lake.

This makes for some lovely fishing weather, but it’s not ideal for fish stocking. And that’s what a small group of employees with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife are here for.

“As soon as Greg gives me the word, I’ll dump ‘em in,” says the fish deliveryman.

The thousands of fish traveled via small trailer through the night from a hatchery in Utah. The driver arrived about two hours early in an attempt to beat the heat.

Eugene Schools Find Lead In Water

Jun 14, 2016

The Eugene School District said Monday it found elevated lead levels in the water at four separate schools.

The elevated lead was found in one or more water faucets at Kennedy Middle School, Roosevelt Middle School, Sheldon High School and the district office.

According to the district, it announced the initial test results for Kennedy Middle School last week, but the lead level results for other campuses are new.

An environmental testing firm is confirming the results.

Oregon lawmakers are hitting the road Monday to get a first-hand look at the state's traffic chokepoints. It's part of an effort to develop a transportation funding package for a vote in next year's legislative session.

The number of people in Portland testing their water for lead has spiked dramatically this month.

In a typical year, the Portland Water Bureau sends out about 3,000 kits to customers who want to test their drinking water for lead. But in the first nine days of June alone, the water bureau has received 1,500 requests for test kits. And that’s on top of roughly 2,900 kits the water agency sent between January and May.

“It’s been quiet a significant increase for us this year," said Scott Bradway, who manages lead hazard reduction efforts at the Portland Water Bureau.

A 1,900 acre fire near Lake Billy Chinook continues to threaten more than 900 homes. Officials said the fire is 30 percent contained.

The Akawana fire is within a few miles of a subdivision northeast of Sisters in Jefferson County, and it's triggered a preliminary evacuation notice for residents. Residents in the area have been asked to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.

The lighting-caused blaze is currently burning in heavy brush and ponderosa pine on state forestland.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it will take 30 years and around $746 million to clean up a 10-mile stretch of the Willamette River known as the Portland Harbor Superfund Site.

The area from the Broadway Bridge to the Columbia Slough is highly contaminated from more than a century of industrial use. After 16 years of study, the EPA finally has a plan for how to clean it all up.

The Bend Parks and Recreation Board has passed a memorandum of understanding about the future of Mirror Pond under new, potential private ownership of the Mirror Pond dam.

The non-binding MOU outlines future collaboration between the district and Mirror Pond Solutions, a corporation owned by local developer Bill Smith and construction company owner Todd Taylor.

Mirror Pond Solutions wants to lead negotiations with Pacific Power, owner and operator of Mirror Pond dam, and explore purchasing the structure.

Portland Public Schools Superintendent Carole Smith met families at Creston School on Tuesday night because the district’s bungled lead response was worst there. Smith announced a three-part plan to the unfolding water debacle.

She wants to form a community task force on drinking water and hire two sets of outside investigators – one for recent, and one for longer-term lead problems.

But Smith immediately faced tough questions at Tuesday's meeting. School board member Steve Buel objected to her supervising the investigations.

You may have heard about "rails-to-trails" conversions. Thanks to some entrepreneurial bicycle enthusiasts, you don't need to wait for the rails to come out in two Oregon counties. Friday, a company begins offering scenic tours along Tillamook Bay using pedal-powered contraptions that ride on the rails.

Lead test results are in for nearly 200 people who live and work near Bullseye Glass in Southeast Portland. So far, none of them shows lead levels that would require medical care or follow-up.

Clean Air Advocates Converge On Oregon Senate Hearing

May 23, 2016

Hundreds of people, worried about clean air, converged on Oregon’s Legislature Monday, to speak at a senate hearing.

Last week Gov. Kate Brown issued a cease and desist order to Bullseye Glass, after air monitors identified it as a source of lead emissions.

Mary Peveto with "Neighbors For Clean Air" called it a sea-change event — for the state to use health as the basis for air emission standards.

Bullseye Glass is cutting back hours in response to a state order to limit its production. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality said the company may not make glass using a list of nine metals. Bullseye said this effectively eliminates 80 percent of its product lines.

Jim Jones, Bullseye’s director of sales, said for the next three weeks, about 15 employees will be idle.

Jones said people are not being dismissed outright, but the company expects some attrition.

The Oregon Coast is getting a new tourist attraction. The University of Oregon is holding a ribbon cutting and grand opening Saturday in Charleston at the mouth of Coos Bay for its new Marine Life Center.

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.

Now that Oregon's May primary is over, the winners are looking ahead to November's general election. But the primary was notable for another reason.

There was a third major party on the ballot.

More than two-thirds of voters in Oregon's Hood River County passed a local ban on commercial water bottling in Tuesday’s election.

The measure was designed to block Nestle’s plans to build a $50 million water bottling plant in the city of Cascade Locks.

Backers of the measure are calling their victory a landslide, and a triumph of David over Goliath. But so far, Nestle and its supporters say they're ready to accept that narrative.

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.

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.

Nestle, the company aiming to build a bottled water plant in Cascade Locks, has funded a political action committee supporting its cause, according to campaign finance data.

Hood River County voters will decide on a measure aimed at blocking the plant’s construction in Oregon’s May 17 primary election. The ballot measure would restrict the production and transportation of bottled water to less than 1,000 gallons per day from any Hood River County water source.

The Warrenton-Hammond School Board on the northwest Oregon Coast voted unanimously Tuesday night to remove Native American symbolism from its school mascots. The Warrenton Grade School Braves will get a name change and the high school’s "Warriors" logo will be redesigned.

The race to become Oregon's next secretary of state is heating up. The three Democratic candidates in this month's primary are trading barbs after one of them received a huge contribution from a New York billionaire.

And no, it's not Donald Trump.

The Oregon Supreme Court Thursday upheld the death sentences of a father and son convicted in the bombing deaths of two Oregon police officers in 2008. But with a moratorium on the death penalty still in place, it's unlikely the executions will be carried out any time soon.

"He lived a hardscrabble life in a rusty steel town. John Kasich never gives up."

An hour after that campaign ad aired on Portland radio Wednesday afternoon, Ohio Gov. John Kasich did give up, pulling the plug on his presidential campaign. 

Ballots are going out in the mail this week to Oregon voters in advance of next month's primary. And it appears that independent voters are signing up in droves to vote in the Democratic and Republican presidential primaries.

Pages