EarthFix Reports
7:55 am
Fri October 3, 2014

Bats May Mistake Wind Turbines For Trees, Study Warns

Hoary bats are one of the tree bats that die the most at wind farms in the Northwest. A new study says that tree bats might not be able to tell the difference between wind turbines and trees.
Flickr Creative Commons: Daniel Neal

Originally published on Thu October 2, 2014 3:55 pm

An unprecedented number of bats are being killed by wind turbine blades. A new report has found bats may be mistaking wind turbines for trees.

Bats are often looking for a place to roost when the moon is bright and winds are low. That’s when the conditions can be the deadliest for bats flying near wind turbines.

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EarthFix Reports
8:23 am
Wed October 1, 2014

Tidal Power Project In Puget Sound Abandoned By Utility

A crew deploying a "sea spider" in 2011 to collect data from the floor of Puget Sound in Admiralty Inlet. After eight years of testing and permitting processes, the Snohomish County PUD has decided to halt the project.
Ashley Ahearn

Originally published on Tue September 30, 2014 3:47 pm

A long-awaited tidal energy project in Puget Sound has come to halt. The project was set to generate electricity and connect it to the grid – the first project of its kind in the world. But it just got too expensive.

The Snohomish County Public Utility District had hoped to install two underwater turbines in Admiralty Inlet near Puget Sound’s Whidbey Island. The pilot turbines would have generated enough power for about 200 homes and stayed in the water up to five years.

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Bonneville Power Administration
8:22 am
Wed October 1, 2014

Feds Hand Hiring Authority Back To BPA

File photo of the Bonneville Dam spillway

Originally published on Tue September 30, 2014 5:32 pm

The U.S. Department of Energy says the Bonneville Power Administration can be in charge of hiring new employees again.

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EarthFix Reports
7:44 am
Mon September 29, 2014

Why The Northwest Is the New Frontier For Geothermal Energy

One of several geothermal exploration sites in Oregon is Newberry Crater, where a company has found a lot of underground heat but no geothermal fluid.
Bill Reynolds/Flickr

Originally published on Mon September 29, 2014 1:00 am

PORTLAND -- The Geothermal Energy Association chose to hold its annual meeting in Portland this year, and leaders say that's in part because they see the Pacific Northwest as a new frontier for the industry.

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3:20 pm
Wed September 24, 2014

Concern About Oil Spills In Inland Northwest Rises With Rail Traffic

File photo of an oil train

Originally published on Wed September 24, 2014 8:26 am

The coast has generally been considered the area of the Northwest most at risk for a catastrophic oil spill. But the rise in oil moving through the region by rail has raised the stakes for some inland areas.

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EarthFix Reports
8:06 am
Wed September 17, 2014

Report Finds Weakness In Seattle's Ability To Respond To Oil Train Mishap

Increased oil train traffic prompted a City of Seattle report on the safety risks and ability of public safety agencies to respond to a derailment or explosion.
Flickr/Russ Allison Loar

Originally published on Tue September 16, 2014 4:22 pm

A new report by public safety agencies highlights several weaknesses in Seattle's ability to respond to an oil train accident.

The report to the Seattle City Council was complied by the Seattle Fire Department and the Office of Emergency Management.

At the top of the report's list of concerns: the 100 year old tunnel that runs through the middle of downtown Seattle. The report said that the lack of safety systems in the Great Northern tunnel will present significant challenges to first responders.

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1:59 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Is Geothermal The Answer To Our Energy Woes?

Canary Spring in Yellowstone National Park.
Flickr Photo/James St. John (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds talks with Susan Petty, president and chief technology officer at Altarock, about the prospects for geothermal energy.

EarthFix Reports
9:23 am
Mon August 25, 2014

Northwest Researchers Work To Boost Geothermal Power

A geothermal power plant. There’s been a lot of hype around geothermal power, which uses heat from the below the earth’s surface to provide energy. Several Northwest researchers are hoping to push the renewable energy forward.
Flickr Creative Commons: Scott Ableman

Originally published on Sun August 24, 2014 1:00 am

There’s been a lot of hype around geothermal power, which uses heat from the below the earth’s surface to provide a steady, renewable source of energy. But the sector has been slow to take off, even though the U.S. is the world's top producer of geothermal energy.

With help from federal grants, several Northwest researchers are hoping to push the technology forward.

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Workplace Safety
12:57 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

No Criminal Charges In Deadly Tesoro Refinery Explosion

Lew Janz of Anacortes was one of seven Tesoro workers killed by an April 2010 explosion at a refinery in Anacortes, Washington.
Credit Courtesy of Gordon Janz

The U.S. Department of Justice has closed its four-year criminal investigation into whether environmental and worker safety laws were broken leading up to the fatal Tesoro refinery blast.

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EarthFix Reports
3:07 pm
Tue August 5, 2014

Video: How Ready Are Portland Firefighters For An Oil Train Derailment?

Firefighters with Portland Fire and Rescue demonstrate how they would apply fire retardant foam to contain and extinguish an oil train fire.
Anthony Schick

Originally published on Tue August 5, 2014 8:00 am

PORTLAND -- Three oil trains roll through the city each week en route to a shipping terminal down the Columbia River near Clatskanie, Oregon.

If one of them were to derail, Portland firefighters say they're not equipped for a major spill, fire, or explosion along the lines of last year's Lac-Megantic explosion in Quebec, Canada.

Portland Fire and Rescue Lt. Dave Keller says the city's fire department could only adequately respond to a smaller-scale derailment -- maybe one car leaking fuel or one car on fire.

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EarthFix Reports
7:39 am
Fri August 1, 2014

5 Safety Concerns With Shipping Oil By Water

An oil barge. A new report by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service concludes that a shift in transport of oil to barges and ships raises many safety concerns.
Flickr/Kill Van Kull

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 5:21 pm

While many Northwest communities are focused on the safety risks of shipping crude oil by rail, a new report raises safety concerns about another shipping method: oil by water.

Across the country, more and more domestically produced oil is being shipped by barges and tankers as pipelines fill up to capacity. The report, by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, concludes: "This rather sudden shift in transportation patterns raises concerns about the safety and efficiency of oil tankers and barges."

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7:37 am
Fri August 1, 2014

Oregon Terminal Developer Gets Blessing For Natural Gas Exports

File photo of an LNG terminal in Nynashamn, Sweden.

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 5:09 pm

A proposed liquefied natural gas terminal near Astoria, Oregon, received the U.S. Department of Energy’s blessing Thursday to export to all overseas markets. It's a necessary approval to make the controversial project pencil out, but many hurdles remain.

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Nuclear Energy
7:23 am
Fri July 11, 2014

Hanford Vapors: It's Still Difficult To Track Down The Solution

Handheld air monitors are used in the Hanford Nuclear Reservation's tank farms to help keep workers safe. But a human nose can detect far less concentrated chemicals, than this high-tech machinery.

Originally published on Thu July 10, 2014 7:46 am

Since the spring, a run of workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation have needed medical attention from exposure to chemical vapors. On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Energy led a bus load of journalists to points across the site to show off what they’re doing to keep workers safe.

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6:18 am
Wed June 18, 2014

U.S. Offshore Wind Energy Area Would Nearly Double Under New Plan

The Department of the Interior is proposing a large expansion of U.S. efforts to make energy from offshore winds, with a plan centered off the Massachusetts coast. Here, a 2010 photo shows a sunrise over Nantucket Sound.
Julia Cumes AP

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 8:55 am

A large swath of the Atlantic Ocean could soon be used to generate electricity, as a U.S. agency proposes opening more than 1,000 square miles of ocean to wind energy projects. The area is off the coast of Massachusetts, which has been working on the proposal with federal officials.

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Nuclear Waste
7:31 am
Tue June 17, 2014

Washington State, Energy Department Continue Talks Over Hanford Tank Cleanup

Originally published on Tue June 17, 2014 7:46 am

  Washington state and the U.S. Department of Energy just gave themselves a 40-day deadline. They need a clear cleanup plan for leaking tanks of radioactive waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

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