Environment

KUOW's environment beat brings you stories on the ongoing cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, alternative energy, the health of the Puget Sound, coal transportation and more. We're also partnered with several stations across the Northwest to bring you environmental news via EarthFix.

High above the Pacific Ocean in a plane headed for Hong Kong, most of the passengers are fast asleep.

But not Jim Puckett. His eyes are fixed on the glowing screen of his laptop. Little orange markers dot a satellite image. He squints at the pixelated terrain trying to make out telltale signs.

He’s searching for America’s electronic waste.

“People have the right to know where their stuff goes,” he says.

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Americans have until May 10 to help the Food and Drug Administration with one of philosophy's greatest riddles: What is the meaning of "natural"?

A new environmental nonprofit is scouting the Pacific Northwest coast for a suitable cove or bay to establish a refuge for retired captive orca and beluga whales.

The board and staff of the new outfit, called The Whale Sanctuary Project, includes a number of people who helped return Keiko, the star of the Free Willy movie, to Icelandic waters from Newport, Oregon.

Deep in the ocean, a mission is underway to explore the "unknown and poorly known areas" around the Mariana Trench.

Part 6 of the TED Radio Hour episode The Case For Optimism

About Al Gore's TED Talk

Vice President Al Gore explains how human ingenuity can solve our climate crisis.

About Al Gore

Days after they fled a powerful wildfire, more than 80,000 people who live in and around Fort McMurray are told that "it will not be a matter of days" before they can return home. Gusting winds have helped the fires spread farther, and more evacuation plans are being formed.

The biggest electronic recycling company in Washington faces multiple state investigations and has lost its environmental certification after it was caught secretly exporting televisions laden with hazardous materials to unregulated facilities in Hong Kong.

Seattle-based Total Reclaim, a certified electronics recycler in Oregon and Washington, admitted to withholding information about the exports after the nonprofit Basel Action Network placed GPS tracking devices in flat screen TVs and tracked their journey overseas.

The biggest electronic recycling company in Washington faces multiple state investigations and has lost its environmental certification after it was caught secretly exporting televisions laden with hazardous materials to unregulated facilities in Hong Kong.

Seattle-based Total Reclaim, a certified electronics recycler in Oregon and Washington, admitted to withholding information about the exports after the nonprofit Basel Action Network placed GPS tracking devices in flat screen TVs and tracked their journey overseas.

Aji Piper (top row, middle) Adonis Piper (second row, right) and attorney Andrea Rodgers (top row, right) at King County Superior Court, outside the courtroom where they won their case.
Courtesy of Our Children's Trust

Jeannie Yandel speaks with Aji and Adonis Piper, two of eight youth plaintiffs in the case, Zoe and Stella Foster vs. Washington Department of Ecology, and  their attorney Andrea Rodgers.

The kids took the Department of Ecology to court over inaction on curbing carbon emissions in the state. 

A new study conducted in Portland neighborhoods confirms that the more traffic there is on a street, the more air pollution cyclists are breathing.

A number of studies have measured air quality along bike routes, but Alex Bigazzi wanted to see how much pollution got into cyclists’ lungs.

A new forest study reveals an unexpected silver lining for forests attacked by insects like the mountain pine beetle.

Researchers from the University of Vermont and Oregon State University studied fires in forests with outbreaks of both mountain pine beetles and western spruce budworms in the past 25 years. The new report shows that forests eaten up by insects had less severe wildfires than those that were insect-free.

Seattle Food Rescue founder Tim Jenkins picks up food from Stock Box on James St.
KUOW Photo/Matt Martin

Up to 40 percent of food in the U.S. ends up in landfills. Seattle has been trying to tackle the issue with laws that require composting. But that's not enough for one local cyclist.

Tim Jenkins cuts sharply across tracks in the road as he jets through an intersection before the light changes. He has a child trailer attached to the back of his bike. But instead of carrying a small human, Jenkins hopes to fill the cart with food.

In a ruling Wednesday, Federal District Court Judge Michael Simon rejected the government's latest plan for protecting salmon in the Columbia River Basin, saying the system of fish-blocking dams “cries out for a new approach.”

Forty centimeters is a long way down when you’re digging a pit in the forest.

“That’s why you never find perpetrators burying a body six feet under – it’s way too much work,” quips Western Oregon University Professor Misty Weitzel to the raucous approval of her sweaty students.

These Western Oregon University students aren’t burying bodies. They’re digging them up. Weitzel assures that the bodies are not human.

“What we have are three domestic pig burials that were placed in the ground 10 years ago,” says Weitzel, who teaches criminal justice.

Authorities have issued a mandatory evacuation order for the 80,000 residents of Fort McMurray in Alberta, where a wildfire has taken hold in the oil sands region. According to officials, it's the largest evacuation order caused by fire in the province's history.

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