Monday, October 14, 2013

10/14 Toxic fish, BPA risk, seal release, Sea Change rebuttal, octopus havens, Elwha Love, dying starfish, NDak spill, Longview coal

EPA sued over Washington fish-consumption estimates
A fight over how much fish people eat in Washington — and thus, how much toxic pollution they consume — is now in federal court. Conservation and commercial-fishing groups sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Friday, saying the agency has for too long let state officials underestimate fish consumption, resulting in weaker anti-pollution standards than are needed to protect the public. The groups, including Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, Columbia Riverkeeper and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, reason that if the estimates were more realistic, the state would have to more strictly regulate emissions of mercury, lead, copper and other toxins — a prospect that concerns industry groups and that emerged as a sticking point in budget talks in Olympia last spring. Gene Johnson reports.  New blog: No, You Shouldn’t Eat The Fish—Not Yet

Study ties chemical BPA to possible miscarriage risk
New research suggests that high levels of BPA, a chemical in many plastics and canned food linings, might raise the risk of miscarriage in women prone to that problem or having trouble getting pregnant. The work is not nearly enough to prove a link, but it adds to “the biological plausibility” that BPA might affect fertility and other aspects of health, said Dr. Linda Giudice, a California biochemist who is president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. The study was to be presented Monday at the group’s annual conference in Boston. Last month, ASRM and an obstetricians group urged more attention to environmental chemicals and their potential hazards for pregnant women. Marilynn Marchione reports.

If you like to watch: Vancouver Aquarium releases 11 seals at Crescent Beach
The Vancouver Aquarium released 11 harbour seals at Crescent Beach in South Surrey on Saturday. The seals were rescued from all over B.C. and brought to the aquarium's rehabilitation centre, where they stayed for two to three months, said Lindsaye Akhurst, manager at the Vancouver Aquarium's Marine Mammal Rescue Centre (MMRC).

Expert: critique of Seattle Times “Sea Change” project ignores the science
Seattle Times reporter Craig Welch, author of the series "Sea Change," rebuts Cliff Mass's critique of the series. "Ocean acidification actually is to blame for current problems with Northwest oysters. And that fact is supported by strong evidence. Suggesting otherwise is a misreading of the science. Readers need not take our word for it.”

Octopus protection was a compromise move  
Chris Dunagan at the Kitsap Sun blogs that "The decision to outlaw octopus hunting at seven select diving spots in Puget Sound was a compromise between those who wanted a complete closure throughout Puget Sound and those who wanted no closure at all. Janna Nichols, a leader in the local scuba diving community, told me that nearly all scuba divers who spoke out wanted a complete ban on killing the giant Pacific octopus in Puget Sound. But scientific arguments were presented that the octopus population was healthy and could tolerate a limited harvest."

An undammed Elwha River building beaches again: Crab found where it once was too rocky
During a recent survey of sediment that flowed down the Elwha River and accrued along a beach to the east of the river mouth, Ian Miller found something he had not yet seen during his surveys.  Miller, a coastal hazards specialist with Washington Sea Grant, came across a Dungeness crab that had tucked itself into fine-grain sand onto the lowest portion of a beach east of the river mouth, just north of where Sampson Road on the Lower Elwha Klallam reservation ends. A crab living in this type of habitat on its own is not particularly newsworthy, except for the fact that this sandy area of beach was nothing but cobblestone a year prior. Jeremy Schwartz reports.

Mass Starfish Die-off Appears Headed For Washington  
... In October, divers with the SeaDoc Society have reported small numbers of sunflower stars and three other species of sea stars wasting away in the San Juan Islands. “Every population has sick animals,” said SeaDoc Society wildlife veterinarian Joe Gaydos, on a boat off Orcas Island between research dives. “Are we just seeing sick animals because we’re looking for it, or is it an early sign of a large epidemic that may come through and wipe out a lot of animals?” Scientists in Washington and British Columbia are gathering sea stars for analysis. They're sending the healthy and diseased specimens to wildlife laboratories to find out if the wasting disease is a virus, bacteria or something else entirely. John Ryan reports.

North Dakota waits nearly 2 weeks to tell public about 20K-barrel oil spill in farmer's field  
When a pipeline rupture sent more than 20,000 barrels of crude spewing across a North Dakota wheat field, it took nearly two weeks for officials to tell the public about it. The break in a Tesoro Corp. pipeline happened in a remote area, and officials say no water was contaminated or wildlife hurt. But environmentalists are skeptical and say it's an example of a boom industry operating too cozily with state regulators. James MacPherson reports.

Final hearing on Longview coal export dock Thursday in Tacoma
A controversial proposal to ship coal to Asian markets through a Longview export dock will get an airing Thursday in Tacoma, the last stop on a statewide tour. The Washington state Department of Ecology and the federal Army Corps of Engineers have held four hearings on how broad to make the project’s environmental review. The fifth and final meeting is this Thursday from 4-8 p.m. at the Tacoma Convention Center.

Now, your tug weather--

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