Wednesday, May 29, 2013

5/29 Whale Scout, seals, culverts, sewage odour, bad stormwater, harbor cleanups, green paper, anemone venom, Master Gardeners, caterpillars, coal politics

Harbor Seals (Ryan Kitko, Wikimedia)
Celebrate Whales: June is Orca Awareness Month and June 1 is the debut of Whale Scout, a new organization connecting the public with trained naturalists who will share their knowledge about our local whales, assist with whale sightings and offer tips on conservation. The launch party is this Saturday from 3 to 8 pm at Richmond Beach Saltwater Park in Shoreline. Check out Whale Scout

Harbor seals are the homebodies of Puget Sound. In every bay and cove, the appearance of their domed heads breaking the surface for a look around with those dreamy eyes is one of the signature sights of our waters. Unlike orcas that cruise in and out of our view, harbor seals live out their lives in our midst, picking their spots even in urban waterways and sticking around throughout lives that can stretch past 20 years. For scientists, that makes harbor seals valuable sentinels of the Sound. Seals have an important story to tell of resilience and survival, revealed in long-term population studies and in tracking studies of contamination levels in their bodies of PCBs and other pollutants. Lynda Mapes reports. Seals tell tales of Sound’s health  

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson is appealing a federal ruling ordering the state to fix culverts that block salmon passages. The state on Tuesday filed a notice of appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals of the March 29 U.S. District Court ruling by Judge Ricardo S. Martinez that set up a timeline to fix hundreds of culverts around the state. State officials have said the ruling could cost billions of dollars — money the state doesn’t have. The Martinez ruling is part of a decades-old legal battle tied to treaties dating back to the mid-1800s. Tribes say the state has blocked salmon passage and contributed to the decline of fish harvests. State appeals demand for culvert work

Metro Vancouver will send a 25-member contingent to Washington state to conduct “sniff tests” on U.S. sewage plants as it pursues a new $400-million Lion’s Gate sewage treatment facility.... The tour, which will visit sewage plants in Blaine, Seattle, Edmonds and Olympia, includes everyone on Metro’s utilities committee, as well as staff from Metro and North Vancouver municipalities, members from the two First Nations bands and chair and vice-chair of the Lion’s Gate public advisory committee. Slated for June or July, the trip is expected to provide Metro Vancouver with insight into newer technologies and odour control mechanisms that have been used in the U.S. plants. The cost is expected to be $30,000. Remuneration for the 13 members of the utilities committee is expected to be $18,000. Kelly Sinoski reports. Metro sending 25 people to sniff out sewage plants in Washington

In the stormwater world, if a rain garden is releasing more pollution into the environment than it’s capturing, word gets around. So when the city of Redmond crunched its first flush of data from a new roadside rain garden and discovered the water coming out of it was tainted with alarming levels of phosphorus, nitrates, and copper, the stormwater community took notice. Washington State regulators went on the record to say that they would be studying the data and possibly revising their rain garden recommendations. Proponents of the technology fear that the results will be overblown and exploited by skeptics of so-called low-impact development solutions. Lisa Stiffler reports. Redmond’s Rain Garden Challenge

The city faces expenses of about $400,000 to install a temporary fix to stop toxic oil from seeping into Bellingham Bay from a city-owned site near the intersection of Wharf Street and Cornwall Avenue. The R.G. Haley wood-treatment plant operated there for many years, and the soil is contaminated with the toxic chemicals that were used there before that plant shut down in 1985. The city purchased the site in 2009 from Douglas Management Co., paying only $1 but agreeing to take on the cost of environmental cleanup, estimated at anywhere between $3 million and $9 million at the time. John Stark reports. Temporary fix of seeping toxins into Bellingham Bay will cost $400,000

Port of Port Angeles commissioners approved Tuesday an additional $35,000 to clean up contamination from the former Peninsula Plywood site. The $35,000 will cover the cost of three sediment contamination tests immediately offshore as part of the demolition of the industrial site at 439 Marine Drive that was home to the PenPly plant and will map pipelines running underneath the 19-acre site leading to the former Peninsula Fuel station on the south side of the property. Arwyn Rice reports.  Port of Port Angeles OKs more money for cleanup of former mill site

Take a look at the notepad on your desk, your ATM receipt or the package of disposable plates you bought for your Memorial Day barbecue. Many paper products are labeled as being sourced from sustainable forests, and many consumers make buying decisions based on those labels. But are the labels trustworthy? A Bellingham-based environmental group, ForestEthics, plans to file a complaint Wednesday with the Federal Trade Commission that says one of the largest organizations that certifies forestry practices misleads consumers about the sources of the products that carry its seal of approval. Erika Bolstad reports. Bellingham group: 'Green' seal not worth paper it’s printed on

Could a synthetic compound derived from a sea anemone venom be used in the fight against obesity? That's what researchers from the University of California Irvine and Seattle-based biotech Kineta Inc. are trying to find out. The college researchers licensed a synthetic compound called ShK-186 to Kineta, which is developing the compound to treat autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, psoriatic arthritis and lupus, but which could be used to treat obesity. Ben Miller reports. Sea anemone venom touted as obesity weapon

On any given day of the week, you’ll find volunteers all around Pierce and Thurston counties giving hours of their time to teach others about gardening. They’re the Master Gardeners, an army of nearly 400 from all walks of life who share two passions – growing plants and sharing knowledge. They’re part of a program that’s just turning 40 years old, has spread to every corner of the nation and beyond and started right here in Pierce County. Rosemary Ponnekanti reports. Master Gardeners celebrate 40th year of program that began locally

Tent caterpillars, which last year wiped out apple crops on Saltspring Island and caused the cancellation of the annual apple festival, are now hatching from their tree-top nests and munching on fresh, green leaves. But these new hatchlings aren’t expected to reach the numbers of last year, nor decimate fruit orchards or deciduous trees to the same extent. Sandra McCulloch reports.  Creepy crawly caterpillars not as populous in Greater Victoria this year

Whatcom County sits at the northwest tip of the continental United States, a pine-fringed strip of 2,100 square miles in Washington state near where Canada meets the Pacific Ocean. Whatcom’s biggest claim to fame until now was as the nation’s top raspberry producer. But this year, a local election—the race for four seats on the Whatcom County Council—is shaping up to have a profound national, even global, impact. The outcome could affect the U.S. coal industry, trade relations with China, and the planet’s changing climate. Already, the county race is on the radar of the coal industry, which campaigned against President Obama in 2012 on the charge that he’s waged a “war on coal,” and of national advocacy groups such as the League of Conservation Voters, which spent $14 million nationally to influence the 2012 elections. “This is a smallish, local election, but the decisions this council will make over the next year or two will have sweeping implications for climate and energy around the world,” says Brendan Cechovik, executive director of the Washington state League of Conservation Voters, which is campaigning in support of four council candidates, and against two. Coral Davenport reports. The Obscure County Election That Could Change the Planet

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 300 AM PDT WED MAY 29 2013
TODAY
E WIND 10 KT BECOMING W 5 TO 15 KT IN THE MORNING. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 5 FT AT 9 SECONDS. RAIN LIKELY THIS MORNING...THEN SHOWERS LIKELY IN THE AFTERNOON.
TONIGHT
W WIND 10 TO 20 KT. WIND WAVES 1 TO 3 FT. W SWELL 5 FT AT 9 SECONDS. A CHANCE OF SHOWERS.
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