Friday, January 24, 2014

1/24 Geoduck farm, train safety, ocean acid, Fraser tug, Skagit water, herons, Pebble Mine, exploding toilets

Sandstone shoreline, Gabriola Is. (Laurie MacBride)
Subtle Hues, Fragile Shores
Laurie MacBride in Eye on Environment writes: "Our mostly grey west-coast winters tend to have little in the way of colour – so instead, we learn to appreciate the subtle textures and monochromatic hues that dominate this season...."

State repeals permit on geoduck farm
A state panel has overturned a Pierce County permit allowing a commercial geoduck farm on Henderson Bay between Purdy and Key Peninsula. The state Shorelines Hearings Board cited potential harm to eelgrass and the safety threat to windsurfers in overruling a county hearing examiner’s approval of the permit for a 5-acre farm. In its 58-page ruling Wednesday, the board sided with ecological and recreational concerns in rejecting the permit for Chelsea Farms, the first geoduck farming permit for Henderson Bay. Steve Maynard reports.

NTSB pushes regulators to improve safety of crude oil trains
The National Transportation Safety Board called Thursday for federal regulators to take more aggressive steps to protect the public and the environment from oil spills and fires from trains. The NTSB, an independent agency that makes recommendations but has no regulatory powers, asked the Federal Railroad Administration and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to develop oil-spill response plans that account for the large volumes of crude oil now moving by rail. It urged regulators to identify routes for such shipments that would avoid population centers and environmentally sensitive areas. It also said regulators should make sure that crude oil, especially from North Dakota’s Bakken region, was properly classified to reflect its higher level of hazard. After intense fires following derailments in Quebec, Alabama and North Dakota, regulators concluded that the Bakken crude, which is extracted from shale rock through hydraulic fracturing, is more volatile than conventional oils. Curtis Tate reports.

Sea Change: Struggling with next steps
When U.S. Rep. Brian Baird tried a few years ago to get his colleagues to put more money toward ocean-acidification research, few even understood the issue. One congressman, Baird said, confused souring seas with acid rain, and asked, “Didn’t we deal with that 20 years ago?” The corrosion of the oceans by carbon-dioxide emissions has barely made a ripple among Washington, D.C.’s power brokers. Little money gets earmarked for research. Ocean change has inspired few stabs at curbing CO2. In fact, aside from West Coast lawmakers and scattered others from coastal regions, few in Congress seem to grasp the scale of the challenge, said current and retired lawmakers from both parties. Craig Welch reports. So West Coast states, led by Washington, are now forging ahead largely on their own. Craig Welch reports.

Teen wants to make a difference by pushing bills for state oyster
A 14-year-old student wants to designate a state oyster and bring awareness to the threat of ocean acidification. She also wants other young people to know they can participate in government. Ashley Stewart reports.

Sinking tugboat leaks minimal fuel into the Fraser River  
A converted tugboat that sank near Richmond, B.C. on Wednesday night leaked a minimal amount of fuel into the Fraser River. A witness named Brian said the 52-foot tugboat was anchored in the channel between Graybar Pier and Annacis Island. Somehow the anchor became loose and the boat started drifting with the tide, eventually colliding with a piling.... Now there is a debate over what to do with the boat — and who will pay for the clean up.

Proposed pilot project could bring water relief to frustrated landowners
A pilot project to store and release water could give landowners in the Carpenter-Fisher sub-basin the ability to build on their properties. The Upper Skagit Indian Tribe is sponsoring the study of a possible project in the Fisher Creek sub-basin that would store water during times of high stream flow in the Skagit River. The reserved water would be released during drier periods to increase water flow and offset landowner use. An October 2013 ruling by the state Supreme Court reverted current law to a 2001 rule that established a certain water level for the Skagit River. The ruling left thousands of landowners without a clear, uninterruptable source of water. Rachel Lerman reports.

New camera coming for March Point heron rookery
In the forest land of March Point between Fidalgo and Padilla bays, Skagit County is home to one of the largest groups of nesting great blue herons on the West Coast. Skagit Land Trust protects 3.5 acres in the area called the March Point Heronry, where an estimated 500 nests sit high in the trees. Public access is not allowed there because of habitat sensitivity, but in 2006 the installation of a wildlife camera connected people to the majestic birds that thrive along Skagit’s shore with live video in Bay View at the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and on the Reserve’s website. The solar-powered camera quit transmitting last spring, cutting off ties between the reserve and the birds. But the Trust recently secured grants to purchase and install an upgraded version. Kimberly Cauvel reports.

Cantwell asks Obama to limit mining in Bristol Bay
U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell is asking President Barack Obama to take action to restrict or prohibit the development of large-scale mining in the Bristol Bay watershed. In a letter sent Thursday, Cantwell asked Obama to invoke a rarely used authority under the federal Clean Water Act to protect the region that is home to the world's largest sockeye salmon fishery. The Democratic senator says thousands of jobs in Washington state are tied to Bristol Bay salmon fishing. She, fishermen and others are rallying against the proposed Pebble Mine Thursday in Seattle.

Exploding toilets: High-pressure flush part is recalled
Watch out for exploding toilets. Flushmate, the maker of a high-pressure flushing system sold at Home Depot and Lowe's, is expanding its recall of the parts, because they can burst near a seam with force enough to shatter the toilet tank. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says Thursday that the company is recalling 351,000 units in the U.S. and about 9,400 units in Canada of the Series 503 Flushmate 111 Pressure Assist flushing systems installed inside toilet tanks that were made from March 2008 through June 2009.

Now, your weekend tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 224 AM PST FRI JAN 24 2014
GALE WARNING IN EFFECT THROUGH THIS AFTERNOON
TODAY
E WIND 25 TO 35 KT. COMBINED SEAS 8 TO 11 FT WITH A DOMINANT PERIOD OF 17 SECONDS.
TONIGHT
SE WIND 10 TO 20 KT. WIND WAVES 1 TO 3 FT. W SWELL 8 FT AT 15 SECONDS.
SAT
SE WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 6 FT AT 14 SECONDS.
SAT NIGHT
LIGHT WIND. WIND WAVES LESS THAN 1 FT. NW SWELL 5 FT AT 13 SECONDS.
SUN
SE WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. NW SWELL 5 FT AT 18 SECONDS.

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