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.

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Rejecting The Mainstream
10:28 am
Wed May 22, 2013

Portland Voters Keep Fluoride Out Of Drinking Water

Dentist Jay Levy, organizer Kim Kaminski, and volunteers with Clean Water Portland, which opposed adding fluoride to Portland water.
Oregon Public Broadcasting Photo/April Baer

Voters in Portland, Oregon have decide not to add fluoride to their municipal drinking water. Seattle and most other large cities in the US added the chemical decades ago to prevent cavities in children.

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Tsunami Recovery
12:57 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

Japanese Officials Visit Hanford For Nuclear Cleanup Strategies

Mark Triplett Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Originally published on Tue May 21, 2013 7:33 am

The people overseeing the cleanup of the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster are learning some valuable lessons from the long-running cleanup at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. A Japanese government delegation recently toured some of the southeast Washington site.

In Japan, workers in gloves and masks are grinding down sidewalks and roads, wiping down rooftops and bagging contaminated soil. Now, the problem is where to put all that radioactive waste from Fukushima.

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Renewable Energy
10:38 am
Tue May 21, 2013

Wash. Rated First In Renewable Energy, But Will State Meet Its 2020 Renewable Energy Goals?

Flickr Photo/Isaac Viel

  Washington state ranks number one in the nation for our use of renewable energy sources according to an analysis by Slate Magazine. The ranking includes hydroelectric power but the state’s own 2020 renewable energy goals do not. Ross Reynolds speaks with Jessica Finn Coven, the director of Climate Solutions, about whether Washington’s on track to meet our 2020 renewable energy goals.

The High Cost Of Lost Nets
9:06 am
Tue May 21, 2013

Vanquishing Zombie Fishing Nets In Puget Sound

Ghost nets keep capturing fish even after they're lost. These nets cost the dungeness crab industry hundreds of thousands in estimated lost revenue every year.
Ashley Ahearn Earthfix

Doug Monk has been a commercial diver on the Olympic Peninsula for some 20 years, harvesting shellfish and sea cucumbers. But for the past decade, he’s been after a different harvest: ghost nets.

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Puget Sound
12:42 pm
Mon May 20, 2013

Dipping Below The Surface Of Puget Sound

An octopus in Puget Sound
Credit Flickr photo/ cwilso

Most of us walk around on the surface of the earth, thinking that's all there is. But divers know better. There's just as much going on under the water as there is on land. We hear how dipping below the surface completely changed one diver's perspective.

This unusual interview comes from the podcast Here Be Monsters. Its creator, Jeff Emtman, is one of the recipients of KUOW's Program Venture Fund. He'll be moving to Seattle to do some reporting for us this summer.

Full list of stories from KUOW Presents, May 20:

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Endangered Fin Whales
8:45 am
Fri May 17, 2013

Underwater Earthquake Recordings Reveal Mysterious Whale Calls

A fin whale is the second-largest animal after the blue whale. Researchers from the University of Washington have discovered that earthquake-detecting sensors off Vancouver Island also help monitor fin whale swimming patterns.
Aqqa Rosing-Asvid Flickr

The blue whale is believed to be the largest animal ever to exist. But nobody remembers number two. Fin whales are the second-largest animals on the planet, weighing in at around 80 tons.

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Auto Industry
8:53 am
Thu May 16, 2013

Nissan Electric Car Sales Booming In Pacific Northwest

Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Originally published on Wed May 15, 2013 7:37 pm


The automaker Nissan says sales of its fully electric Leaf compact surpassed all other Nissan models at dealers in the Seattle and Portland areas this spring. The announcement Wednesday runs counter to the prevailing wisdom that adoption of plug-in cars has been sluggish.


At Nissan USA headquarters, electric vehicle marketing & sales director Erik Gottfried says he's scrambling to ship enough Leafs to meet demand in the Pacific Northwest. The car maker juiced its plug-in sales by slashing the sticker price and offering low-cost leases.

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Energy
8:53 am
Thu May 16, 2013

Northwest Nuclear Plant Scores Higher Safety Rating

Energy Northwest

Originally published on Wed May 15, 2013 3:59 pm

Federal regulators say the Northwest’s only commercial nuclear power plant is now back on course after an 11-year safety miscalculation. The new designation means the Columbia Generating Station in southeast Washington gets a more relaxed inspection and oversight status.

Between 2000 and 2011, workers at the nuclear plant used faulty estimates for how much radiation could escape during a crisis. That mistake and others were found in an inspection just last year.

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Hanford Cleanup
11:26 am
Tue May 14, 2013

Some Hanford Water Cleanup Exceeds Expectations

CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company

Originally published on Mon May 13, 2013 5:02 pm

Cleanup of a hazardous chemical called hexavalent chromium in the groundwater at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington is going faster than expected.

Hexavalent chromium is the nasty stuff that made Erin Brockovich famous down in California. The chemical was used to inhibit rust in coolant water in Hanford’s reactors. But that water was dumped into the desert, and now the cancer-causer is making its way toward the Columbia River in large groundwater plumes.

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Duwamish Contamination
10:44 am
Tue May 14, 2013

Time To Speak Is Now On $305 Million Duwamish Cleanup Plan

People in communities along Seattle's Lower Duwamish River, a superfund site, came together to learn about the EPA's proposed cleanup plan, open for public comment until June 13.
Earthfix / Ashley Ahearn

A century’s worth of contamination in Seattle's only river is about to get a $305 million cleanup. Before finalizing a decision on the proposed plan, the Environmental Protection Agency is asking the public to weigh in.

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Restoring The Elwha
7:25 am
Thu May 9, 2013

In Largest Dam Removal In US History, Which Fish Get To Recolonize?

Field technicians with the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe catch steelhead in a murky side channel near the mouth of the Elwha and prepare them to be transferred into pristine habitat above the former site of the lower dam.
Earthfix / Ashley Ahearn

From where Mike McHenry stands he can see several gray, torpedo-shaped bodies moving slowly through the brown water of this side channel of the Elwha River, not too far from the site of the largest dam removal project in US history.

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New Habitat Revealed
9:12 am
Wed May 8, 2013

Elwha River: Recovery Proceeds Despite Sediment Setbacks

The largest dam removal in US history has changed the face of Washington's Elwha River and scientists are trying to get a handle on what creatures are using the newly available habitat.
Earthfix / Ashley Ahearn

One of the two dams on the Elwha River has been completely removed and there are about 50 feet of the remaining Glines Canyon dam left. Already so much sediment has been released that it's clogged up and shut down one of the water treatment plants in nearby Port Angeles, temporarily halting the largest dam removal project in US history.

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Carbon Neutral
12:12 pm
Mon May 6, 2013

Making Seattle Carbon Neutral By 2050

Transportation is a key element in Mike O'Brien's plan for a carbon-neutral Seattle by 2050.
Flickr photo/Neal Jennings

Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien wants Seattle carbon neutral by 2050. The plan to make Seattle carbon neutral is bound to be expensive, but O’Brien says carbon neutrality has benefits beyond just reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. Mike O’Brien joins Ross Reynolds today to talk about this proposal. 

Battling Algae Blooms
8:57 am
Thu April 25, 2013

Lake Managers Get New Tool To Combat Algae

Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Originally published on Thu April 25, 2013 11:40 am


Nothing spoils a summer swim in your favorite lake like an algae bloom. These become more common as the weather warms up.  A lake in Federal Way, Washington -- near Seattle -- is serving as a proving ground for a possible new tool to combat toxic blooms.


Almost every summer until last summer, Lake Lorene would turn pea soup green.

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Donating Wildlife To Research
6:57 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

Found A Dead Bird? Science Could Use It

Collections manager Rob Faucett displays a condor wing at the Burke Museum. The Burke has the largest spread-wing collection in the world.
KUOW Photo/Sarah Waller

THUD. It’s the sickening sound of a bird hitting your window. You hope it’s just stunned; that it will fly off. But there it is: A motionless lump of feathers on the ground. Before you bury it or toss it in the trash, consider an alternative. Some Seattle residents are donating these avian casualties to science. 

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