|Bakken oil rail fire (Darrin Radermache/Time)|
Following a string of explosive accidents, federal officials said Thursday that crude oil being shipped by rail from the Northern Plains across the U.S. and Canada may be more flammable than traditional forms of oil. A safety alert issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation warns the public, emergency responders and shippers about the potential high volatility of crude from the Bakken oil patch. The sprawling oil shale reserve is fueling the surging industry in eastern Montana and western North Dakota, which is now the nation's second-largest oil producer behind Texas. Thursday's announcement declares that the Bakken's light, sweet crude oil may be different from traditional heavy crudes because it is prone to ignite at a lower temperature. Experts say lighter crudes, which contain more natural gas, have a much lower "flash point" — the temperature at which vapors given off by the oil can ignite. James MacPherson and Matthew Brown report.
Coal, oil threat shrouds image of frolicking orcas
One of my favorite, fanciful images from the past year revealed nearly three dozen splashing, tail-slapping orca whales encircling a Washington state ferry Oct. 29 as it approached the Bainbridge Island ferry terminal en route from Seattle. As if that image alone isn’t enough to make the spirit soar, there was even more to the story. The ferry was carrying about 500 Suquamish tribal artifacts from the Burke Museum at the University of Washington to their ancestral home on the island. The tools, decorative items and bits of rock and bone had been dug up some 60 years ago from a tribal winter village site that was once the home of Chief Sealth, also known as Chief Seattle. They were finally returned to the tribe to display in a tribal museum completed in 2012. John Dodge reflects.
Scientists study threat from man-made ocean ‘plastisphere’
The plastisphere was six decades in the making. It’s a product of the discarded plastic — flip-flops, margarine tubs, toys, toothbrushes — that gets swept from urban sewer systems and river channels into the sea. When that debris washes into the ocean, it breaks down into bits that are colonized by microscopic organisms that scientists are just beginning to understand. Researchers suspect some of the denizens may be pathogens hitching long-distance rides on floating junk. Scientists also fear that creatures in the plastisphere break down chunks of polyethylene and polypropylene so completely that dangerous chemicals percolate into the environment. Louis Sahagun reports.
Now, your weekend tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 857 PM PST THU JAN 2 2014
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT THROUGH FRIDAY MORNING
NW WIND 15 TO 25 KT...BECOMING 15 TO 20 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT. W SWELL 9 FT AT 13 SECONDS.
N WIND 5 TO 15 KT...BECOMING SE 10 TO 15 KT AFTER MIDNIGHT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 6 FT AT 12 SECONDS.
E WIND 10 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 1 TO 2 FT. W SWELL 5 FT AT 12 SECONDS.
E WIND 10 KT...RISING TO 15 TO 20 KT AFTER MIDNIGHT. WIND WAVES 1 FT...BUILDING TO 2 TO 3 FT AFTER MIDNIGHT. W SWELL
5 FT AT 12 SECONDS.
SE WIND 15 TO 20 KT...RISING TO 20 TO 25 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT. W SWELL 3 FT AT 16 SECONDS.
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