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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Mexico City Quake
3:20 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

The Challenges To Predicting Earthquakes

Credit Flickr Photo/Richard Walker (CC BY-NC-ND)

Moments before the magnitude-7.2 earthquake struck central and southern Mexico, people received a text message warning on their phones.

Ross Reynolds talks with John Vidale, Washington state seismologist and UW professor, about the challenges to predicting earthquakes.

EarthFix Reports
4:01 am
Thu April 17, 2014

New Information Released In Southern Oregon Chemical Spraying Case

John and Barbara Burns in the yard of their home in the Southern Oregon community of Cedar Valley. Newly released investigative documents show two chemicals used to kill trees on a logging site were also detected on their property.
Amelia Templeton/OPB

Originally published on Fri April 4, 2014 5:00 pm

Residents in a coastal Southern Oregon community have been trying since October to find out whether they were exposed to herbicides that a timber company sprayed on a nearby clearcut.

After months of waiting, new information has finally come out: state inspectors say they detected trace amounts of two herbicides on the leaves of apple trees in the neighborhood.

On Oct. 16, a helicopter pilot sprayed herbicide on 176 acres of clearcut forest that belongs to Crook Timberlands.

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Agriculture
3:00 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

What's Killing Off The World's Banana Crop?

Credit Flickr Photo/Ian Ransley (CC BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks with Dr. Lori Carris, plant pathologist at Washington State University, about why the United Nations is warning the world of a ferocious disease that's attacking bananas.

Wildlife Conservation
10:40 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Death Of Popular Hawk Highlights Concerns Over Rat Poison

A red-tailed hawk eats a mouse in Cambridge, Mass. (hbp_pix/Flickr)

Originally published on Thu April 17, 2014 6:03 am

The death of a beloved red-tailed hawk in Cambridge, Mass., has drawn attention to the issue of how rat poison is affecting wildlife.

Veterinarians say the hawk likely died from eating a rodent that consumed rat poison. Local birdwatchers had followed the exploits of the hawk and her mate, which they named Ruby and Buzz, for years.

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Wanapum Dam
4:01 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Endangered Salmon Migrate Via Trucks Around Cracked Dam

At Priest Rapids Dam workers practice transporting salmon in trucks. They'll have to transport hundreds of fish a day so the salmon can get past the lowered water and several dams.
Anna King Northwest News Network

Originally published on Tue April 15, 2014 3:05 pm

The Columbia River will remain drawn down at least until June because of the cracked Wanapum Dam in southeast Washington.

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EarthFix Reports
3:39 am
Wed April 16, 2014

A New Western Outlaw: The Bee Rustler

A close up view of a honey beehive.
Credit Courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Teal Waterstrat

Warmer temperatures and blooming flowers are making it seem like we’ve finally turned the corner toward spring here in the Northwest.

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Land Erosion
12:40 am
Wed April 16, 2014

As La. Coast Recedes, Battle Rages Over Who Should Pay

Man-made canals built for the oil and gas industry cut through wetland. The industry argues those canals aren't to blame for coastal erosion.
Robert F. Bukaty AP

Originally published on Wed April 16, 2014 1:33 pm

Louisiana's coast is disappearing at the rate of about a football field an hour. Since the 1930s, the Gulf of Mexico has swallowed up an area the size of Delaware.

You can see the water encroaching in Delacroix in St. Bernard Parish, less than an hour southeast of New Orleans. Here, a narrow crescent of land known locally as the "end of the world" is where the road abruptly comes to a dead end; in the distance, you see the tops of now-submerged trees.

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Agriculture
8:03 am
Tue April 15, 2014

Alfalfa Growers Hope To Rake In More Green This Year

Drex Gauntt grows some of the earliest-harvested alfalfa in the Northwest near Burbank, Wash. Hay prices this year have him smiling.
Anna King Northwest News Network

Originally published on Mon April 14, 2014 5:40 pm

Many Northwest alfalfa growers had a rough year with bad weather last summer.

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EarthFix Reports
8:17 am
Mon April 14, 2014

Sportman Group To Picket Native Fish Advocates' Banquet

A conflict between sport fishers and native fish advocates centers on management of hatchery fish.
Aaron Kunz

Originally published on Fri April 11, 2014 2:08 pm

A group of sport fishers plans to picket the annual banquet for native fish advocates in Portland Friday evening.

The conflict centers on management of hatchery fish.

Members of the Three Rivers Sportsman's Alliance say the Native Fish Society wants to eliminate hatchery fish.

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EarthFix Reports
4:06 am
Mon April 14, 2014

Researchers Find Pocket Of Air Pollution In Central Washington

Researchers have found the source of an unusual pocket of air pollution in Central Washington. Tiny particles from large agricultural operations mix with vehicle exhaust. That creates nitrate pollution.
Flickr Creative Commons: Henry Alva

Originally published on Fri April 11, 2014 3:57 pm

Nitrate air pollution is higher in the Yakima Valley than many other places in Washington. The state Department of Ecology noticed the pocket of unusually high amounts of nitrate air pollution and commissioned researchers at Washington State University and Central Washington University to determine its source.

These fine particulates are so tiny that you can't see them, but if you breathe them in at high concentrations, they can cause heart and respiratory problems.

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Environment
4:05 am
Mon April 14, 2014

Washington's Wildfire Season Officially Starts Tuesday

File photo. Wildfire season officially starts on April 15 in Washington state
InciWeb

Originally published on Fri April 11, 2014 5:35 pm

Wildfire season officially starts on April 15 in Washington state. Oregon and Idaho have rolling starts to fire precaution rules depending on local conditions.

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Environment
8:06 am
Fri April 11, 2014

Water Supply Rebounds Across Most of Northwest After March Storms

On this map of current snow conditions, blues and greens are good. Red, orange and yellow represent below average snowpack.
Northwest River Forecast Center

Originally published on Thu April 10, 2014 2:58 pm

Irrigators, hydropower dam operators and tugboat captains are sitting pretty across most of the Northwest according to the latest regional water supply forecast.

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EarthFix Reports
8:05 am
Fri April 11, 2014

Saving The Greater Sage Grouse

The West’s greater sage grouse are in trouble. They make their homes in desert sagebrush country. As their habitat shrinks, sage grouse numbers dwindle. Biologists are working to boost the birds' numbers.
Courtesy of Vince Patton, Oregon Field Guide

It’s early in the morning, hours before sunrise. An old pickup truck turns down a dirt road at Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area in Eastern Washington, about 90 minutes west of Spokane.

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EarthFix Reports
8:04 am
Fri April 11, 2014

Propane And Butane Export Terminal Proposed For Longview, Wash.

Natural gas flares from a flare-head at the Orvis State well on the Evanson family farm in McKenzie County.
Tim Evanson / Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/23165290@N00/9290351154/in/photolist-f9XtJb-f9Xtn3-f9HdQe-f9XtBQ-f9HdVH-f9WcRY-f9HeKc-f9Hecp-f9Xujo-f9HdZk-f9XsYw-fbdE6G-f9XtNu-f9Hf5D-f9Hfdx-f9Hfrg-f9HfkR-f9HdED-f9Vdzb-

Originally published on Thu April 10, 2014 12:49 pm

Nearly 30 percent of the gas released during crude oil production in the Bakken oil fields is flared off – burned into the air and essentially wasted.

This week, a Houston-based company proposed building a terminal in Longview, Wash. that would collect some of those gases and export them.

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EarthFix Reports
8:02 am
Fri April 11, 2014

Oregon Wave Energy Project Sinks

More than 100 energy buoys like this were planned to be deployed in Pacific Ocean near Reedsport, Ore. After canceling the larger of two phases of the project in March, the company behind the endeavor has now dropped the entire venture.
Ocean Power Technologies

Originally published on Fri April 4, 2014 5:15 pm

Plans to deploy Oregon’s first commercial wave energy project have been formally dropped by the company.

After spending millions on the project off the coast of Reedsport, Ore., Ocean Power Technologies pulled the plug and will focus on another project in Australia.

Kevin Watkins, a company representative, said this would have actually been the first such project in the Western Hemisphere — but they had trouble securing adequate funds.

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