Monday, April 8, 2013

4/8 Behavior study, B'ham cleanup, refinery safety, Ledgewood, Goldstream land, Quileute whales, Kinder Morgan, Occupy Skagit, prairie ESA, Bainbridge water

Coots (KING-TV)
If you like to watch: Swarms of 'coots' flock to Lake Washington

Environmental scientists have known for decades that what’s killing Puget Sound comes from the indiscretions of the millions of people who live around it. Tiny individual doses of spilled gasoline, lawn fertilizers, cleansers and other everyday toxics are poisoning marine life. Now, thanks to a first-ever behavior study of residents in the 12 counties that surround the Sound, social scientists have managed to further personalize the polluters. The study, presented this week to the Puget Sound Partnership, summarizes the demographic characteristics of those most likely to pollute and zeroes in on where they’re most likely to live. Of the 12 counties surveyed, Pierce County received the lowest score on what’s being called the “Sound Behavior Index” scale. San Juan County residents scored best on the survey, followed closely by Whatcom, East Jefferson and King counties. Mason and Skagit counties joined Pierce County at the bottom of the scale. Rob Carson reports. Study: Pierce County residents not so green

State and Port of Bellingham officials say final cleanup of the Cornwall Avenue landfill will make the site safe for public use, but concerns linger about an earlier decision to dump Squalicum Harbor dredge spoils there. The 13-acre port-owned property beyond the south end of Cornwall Avenue is envisioned as part of a new waterfront park that will feature an over-the-water walkway to Boulevard Park. In the past, the site was home to a sawmill. From 1953 to 1965, it was a city dump. Wendy Steffensen, lead scientist at RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, says options for cleanup of the site are now limited because the Washington Department of Ecology already approved the deposit of 47,000 cubic yards of dredged material from the port's Squalicum Harbor on top of trash buried in the old dump. John Stark reports. Doubts linger about Cornwall landfill cleanup on Bellingham waterfront

The Shell Oil Co. refinery in Anacortes, Wash., sprang a leak last week. Shell quickly shut down the equipment that was boiling oil to make gasoline, but the shutdown led to a release of toxic gases. Shell reported seven separate outbursts of the toxic gases hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide. Katie Skipper with the Northwest Clean Air Agency said her agency won’t know how much of the sulfurous pollution was released until Shell submits a full report at the end of April. While agency officials said this probably was not a major pollution event, they want to find out why hydrogen sulfide puffed out, apparently in excess of the refinery’s legal limits, when the cracking unit was restarted. John Ryan reports. Safety Problems Old And New At Anacortes Oil Refineries  

The massive landslide in the community of Ledgewood south of Coupeville displaced 5.3 million cubic feet of earth and one house in a matter of moments in the early morning hours of March 27, according to the Washington state Department of Natural Resources. That’s about 40,000 dump truck loads. Geologists from the department visited the scene of the landslide this week to take initial stock of the cause and risks. Joe Dragovich, a geologist with DNR, said experts won’t be able to do in-depth work at the site until the area stabilizes, which could be a matter of weeks or months. Geologists on the scene said they heard a tree crack and fall while they were looking around. The four geologists, however, released a “Quick Report for the Ledgewood-Bonair Landslide” on Thursday. The report states that the landslide ran 1,100 along the shoreline and jutted 300 feet into Puget Sound. The beach was lifted up 30 feet above the shore. Jessie Stensland reports.  Prehistoric landslide complex, fault runs along Ledgewood  

It has been a slow journey, spanning 50 years of bureaucracy, but a parcel of land adjacent to Goldstream Provincial Park was officially returned by the federal and provincial governments to the five Saanich First Nations Friday. The five bands will also receive $877,375 in federal compensation for loss of use of the four-hectare parcel, which was accidentally removed from the Goldstream Reserve through a surveying error in 1962. The money will be divided and each First Nation will decide how its portion is to be spent. Judith Lavoie reports. Goldstream land removed in error returned to Saanich tribes

The Quileute Tribal School on Wednesday will host the sixth annual Welcoming the Whales ceremony at LaPush. The event, which is co-sponsored by the Quileute tribe, honors migrating gray whales and their role in Quileute culture. The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. at First Beach and move to the A-ka-lat Center for a meal, singing and storytelling at 1 p.m. Rob Olikainen reports. Quileute to welcome whales in LaPush ceremony Wednesday

Nick Irving, Director of Marine Planning with Parks Canada, discusses the proposed National Marine Conservation Area in the Southern Gulf Islands on April 10 at 4 p.m. at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club.

The prospect of 400 bitumen-laden supertankers a year travelling through the Gulf Islands and Strait of Juan de Fuca should alarm Victoria residents, says Sierra Club B.C.’s interim executive director. The group is hosting a town hall meeting Thursday at the Vic Theatre, 808 Douglas St., on the proposed doubling of the Kinder Morgan pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby. Speakers will include Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin, Esquimalt First Nation Chief Andy Thomas, Sierra Club coastal campaigner and author Caitlyn Vernon and, via Skype, climate-change activist Bill McKibben, co-founder of the climate campaign The town hall meeting will start at 7 p.m. Judith Lavoie reports. Sierra Club holds town hall meeting on Kinder Morgan pipeline

Curt Kraemer first fished the Skagit River for steelhead 50 years ago. Fishing the Skagit is on every steelheader’s bucket list, he says. And now he wants to recapture what steelhead fishers had back before the river was closed to wild steelhead catch-and-release about three years ago due to its federal status as a threatened species. Kraemer, of Marysville, joined about 80 steelhead enthusiasts known as “Occupy Skagit” Saturday at Howard Miller Steelhead Park in Rockport for a “wade-in” protest. There, the fishermen waded out into the Skagit River for hookless fishing in support of reopening the Skagit and Sauk rivers to steelhead catch-and-release. Lynsi Burton reports. Catch and release  

Three species and the prairies they call home could be added to the federal endangered species list, leaving an unknown future for Thurston County landowners and training operations at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Evidence suggests that four of nine Mazama pocket gopher subspecies are threatened with extinction. The Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly is believed to be in danger of extinction and the streaked-horned lark is threatened, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. All three are found on South Sound prairies, which under the proposal would be considered critical habitat for the pocket gopher. Only 10 percent of the area’s original prairies still exist, with a fraction of that considered high-quality habitat. That species and habitat designation could have adverse affects on property values, limit property uses and affect training grounds at JBLM. Chelsea Krotzer reports. Who’s more threatened: Animals or local interests?

Bainbridge Island has been designated as a “sole source aquifer” by the Environmental Protection Agency, which will now review all federally funded projects that could contaminate the island’s water supply. The federal designation, which resulted from a petition filed in 2009, recognizes that the island cannot rely on water supplies outside the area. Extra caution must be exercised to avoid contamination of the six aquifers that supply drinking water on the island. Bainbridge EPA designation means extra caution for aquifers

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