Monday, May 21, 2012

5/21 Fire ants, DFO cuts, coal export, US Navy, Seattle discharges, B'ham rain gardens, Pierce Co sewer, Cowichan hatchery, eating fish, snakehead fish, Suquamish Harbor, Bristol Bay mine, Panama Canal

Oooooh (AP)
Oh, no! European fire ants, capable of inflicting painful stings, are reported to be infesting Lower Mainland gardens. According to a CBC report, the ants have shown up in a number of locations, including a community garden in Burnaby. Fire ants reported to be infesting Lower Mainland gardens

Nine marine scientists and staff in North Saanich Friday will lose their jobs as the federal government cuts almost all the employees who monitor ocean pollution across Canada. The entire DFO contaminants program nationally and regionally — including two research scientists, a chemist and four technicians at the Institute for Ocean Sciences in North Saanich — is being shut down effective April 1, 2013. Across Canada, the government is slashing up to 75 jobs in the national contaminants program — that involves any one who works mostly in marine pollution. For about a decade Fisheries and Oceans has been trying to offload the program to Environment Canada. Instead, this week, it axed it. Ottawa sinks pollution checks  

With the Northwest poised to become the country's leading coal-export region, fights are emerging on several fronts. On the table are proposals to capitalize on Asia's thirst for cheap energy by building a half-dozen terminals in Washington and Oregon that would export coal from the Rockies. Craig Welch writes.  Fights brewing over massive coal-export plans for the Northwest   

A new analysis by the Navy suggests that ongoing training and testing activities could cause greater harm to marine mammals than previously estimated. The new analysis, incorporated into a study of Navy activities in California and Hawaii, also is likely to reveal that the Navy causes more injuries to whales, dolphins and seals in Northwest waters than predicted by environmental studies completed two years ago, Navy officials confirm. Chris Dunagan reports. New analysis shows greater harm from current Navy activities

Meanwhile: The Navy issued a Record of Decision Friday for a second explosives handling wharf at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor. It's the final step in the environmental process before construction of the $715 million facility can begin.  A public notice states the Navy weighed the purpose and need of the facility, environmental consequences and public comments, and selected its preferred alternative — a combined-trestle, large-pile wharf. Second explosives handling wharf gets final approval

Seattle City Council members will get their first look this week at a federal consent decree that will govern hundreds of millions of dollars of local ratepayer spending on water-pollution control.  Four years in the making, the deal negotiated by Seattle Public Utilities, the state Department of Ecology and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would settle a lawsuit brought by the EPA against the city of Seattle for violations of the Clean Water Act.  The consent decree would for the first time allow the city to do the most beneficial pollution-control work first as it tackles the problem of combined sewer overflows, or CSOs — small amounts of raw sewage mixed with stormwater that are discharged into local waters, particularly during heavy rain.   Lynda Mapes reports.  Clean-water settlement: Worst pollution would get priority

Some on-street parking in downtown Bellingham would be removed to install 36 rain gardens, which would clean polluted stormwater flowing into Whatcom Creek, under a new project. The gardens would clean stormwater that flows from 90 acres and is heavily polluted with bacteria signaling the presence of feces and other contaminants. That's one of the projects enabled by new state stormwater funding. Other newly funded efforts would clean stormwater running into Lake Whatcom and the Padden Creek Estuary, among other projects. New project will remove some downtown Bellingham parking for 'rain gardens'

Major construction on a $353 million expansion of Pierce County’s sewage treatment facility in University Place will begin late this year. The Pierce County Council is expected to take a big step forward next month by giving initial approval for the sale of $210 million in bonds for the project. The county plans to finish the work by mid-2016, when the current plant will be at or near capacity.  Pierce County sewer facility expansion will make way for growth  

A greener approach in Seattle aims to prevent untreated sewage and polluted runoff from flowing into Puget Sound by installing dozens of landscaped drainage systems in front of people's homes.  But in southwest Seattle, where the county is planning to install them across 31 neighborhood blocks, some residents see them as a potential safety hazard, an eyesore and just plain inconvenient. A petition is seeking to stop the project. Seattle takes greener approach to sewer overflows  

On average two million young Chinook salmon are released each spring from the federally funded hatchery on the Cowichan River. Within six months, nearly all of them are dead.  Year after year, the mortality rate is staggering, with less than 1 per cent of the fish living to return as adults. The dismal results are thought to be similar at other B.C. hatcheries, which pump out about 20 million Chinook annually, hoping for a miracle. Mark Hume reports.  Cowichan hatchery needs a new approach  

State government assumes, when deciding how clean Washington waters should be, that people eat up to a half-pound of local seafood per month. But it’s not unusual for Jim Peters, a member of the Squaxin Island Tribal Council, to dine with his family three times a week on locally caught salmon, halibut, clams or shrimp – not to mention leftovers.  Encouraged by tribes and environmentalists, Gov. Chris Gregoire’s Department of Ecology is moving toward making a much higher estimate of people’s fish-eating habits that could shape the water-pollution decisions of the next governor’s administration. Jordan Schrader reports.  Eat lots of fish, need cleaner waters    See also: Swinomish kick off salmon season with a blessing  

British Columbia could soon lose its status as the only jurisdiction in North America that allows the importation of live northern snakeheads, an invasive predatory fish that made headlines after it was apparently spotted in a Burnaby lagoon. Provincial Environment Minister Terry Lake said in an interview Friday the ministry is treating the incident as a high priority and is looking at several options.  B.C. eyes northern snakehead ban  

The State Committee of Geographic Names voted last week to fix a 152-year-old spelling error, referring a request to change the name of Squamish Harbor to Suquamish Harbor to the State Board of Natural Resources for a final decision. The harbor, 6 miles south of Port Ludlow, is on the southwestern side of the Hood Canal Bridge. The Board of Natural Resources, which also acts as the State Board on Geographic Names, next meets June 5.  Tribe asks state to change name of harbor  http://peninsuladailynews.com/article/20120521/NEWS/120529994/tribe-asks-state-to-change-name-of-harbor

The possible failure of a dam holding waste from a large-scale mine near the headwaters of one of the world’s premier salmon fisheries in Alaska could wipe out or degrade rivers and streams in the region for decades, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in a draft watershed assessment released Friday. EPA regional administrator Dennis McLerran said there was a fairly low risk of that occurring, however, and the more likely impact would be direct loss of habitat from the mining activity itself.  The report responded to concerns about a large copper-and-gold prospect near the headwaters of Bristol Bay. It is a draft, with a final report that could affect permitting decisions perhaps due by the end of the year after public comment and peer review.  EPA: Mining could affect quality of water, fish  

A wider, deeper Panama Canal will open in 2014, meaning that bigger cargo ships filled with more containers of consumer goods can move directly to the population centers of the East Coast instead of stopping on the West Coast and sending the goods across the country.  From the Panama Canal to the Puget Sound

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 300 AM PDT MON MAY 21 2012
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 11 AM PDT THIS MORNING THROUGH LATE TONIGHT
TODAY
SE WIND 10 TO 15 KT...RISING TO 15 TO 25 KT LATE MORNING. WIND WAVES 1 TO 2 FT BUILDING TO 2 TO 4 FT. SW SWELL 3 FT AT 7 SECONDS...BUILDING TO 5 FT IN THE AFTERNOON. RAIN.
TONIGHT
SW WIND 15 TO 25 KT. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT. SW SWELL 5 FT AT 9 SECONDS. SHOWERS.

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