Wednesday, February 26, 2014

2/26 Orca death, oil trains, seafood, boat poop, Whatcom sewage, ocean fertilization, Navy test, Fukushima, West Point

Eating Seafood (Creative Commons/Librarygroove)
Wash. orca died from blow to head, source unknown
Two years after a young endangered orca washed ashore bloodied and bruised in southwest Washington, investigators have concluded the whale was hit, struck or rammed in the head and neck. But they couldn't determine the source of that blow. In a report released Tuesday, the team of veterinarians and biologists ruled out possible sources of the blunt-force trauma, including sonar and small underwater explosive activity reported by the Royal Canadian Navy in waters off Vancouver Island. "This whale was killed from a blunt-force trauma, but (despite) every effort possible, we couldn't tell if it came from another ship or whale," said Joseph Gaydos, a co-author of the report and wildlife veterinarian with SeaDoc Society, a program of the Wildlife Health Center at the University of California, Davis' School of Veterinary Medicine. "The evidence doesn't support that it was a sonar episode or explosion." Phuong Le reports. (AP)

Exploding Oil Trains Prompt More Stringent Safety Tests
The U.S. Department of Transportation has issued an emergency order requiring crude oil from North Dakota and Montana to be tested before being transported by railroads. Tuesday’s order follows several fiery derailments involving shipments of crude oil. It is intended to ensure greater safety when the highly flammable liquid is being shipped. Federal regulators also said Tuesday they are prohibiting shipping oil using the least-protective packing requirements. Tony Schick reports (EarthFix)

Eating seafood: Health boon or health threat?
Since 2001, the federal government has issued warnings about the risks associated with eating certain fish that contain high levels of mercury. For decades, human industrial activities have emitted large amounts of mercury in the air, which then settles in our waters and has contaminated some fish and shellfish. When we eat fish and shellfish, we get a dose of mercury, and too much mercury can make humans sick....But you have probably also heard that eating fish is healthy. In the 2011 edition of the federal Dietary Guidelines for Americans, they encourage Americans to eat 8-12 ounces (about 2 servings) of seafood per week. They say eating fish is good for you because fish contains an abundance of nutrients including healthy fatty acids known as omega-3s. Omega-3s have been shown to have numerous health benefits, like reducing blood pressure, improving heart health, and aiding in fetal brain development. This conflicting advice by the federal government leads to confusion among consumers about whether they should eat fish because it’s healthy or avoid fish because it’s dangerous. As well, the advice given by the federal government about eating fish is incomplete and misleading. Carl Safina and Elizabeth Brown explain.

Any ideas for a no-discharge zone in Puget Sound?
Washington Department of Ecology is pushing ahead with its plan to create a “no-discharge zone” for Puget Sound, which would prohibit the discharge of sewage from boats, even those with a Type II marine sanitation device....  For many people, it is disconcerting to think about mobile toilets traveling everywhere in Puget Sound and discharging their waste anywhere and at any time.... When they are working properly, Type II marine sanitation devices aboard boats are fairly good at killing bacteria, although levels are still above state water-quality standards. Less certain is what happens to human viruses, including hepatitis, that may not be killed. In addition, marine toilets release chemicals — such as chlorine, quaternary ammonia and formaldehyde — into the water. Chris Dunagan blogs. (Watching Our Water Ways- Kitsap Sun)

Bellingham approves sewer deal with Lake Whatcom district
City Council members say their doubts about a new 20-year sewer service agreement with Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District have been answered. Council members unanimously approved the deal at their Monday, Feb. 24, meeting. At a morning committee session, council members said they had heard from constituents worried that the new agreement might encourage more new home construction in the lake's sensitive watershed. The city has been trying to keep new development to a minimum to curb stormwater runoff that carries polluting phosphorous into the lake, which is the water source for both city and water district residents. John Stark reports. See also: People who draw directly from Lake Whatcom urged to boil water  

Ocean fertilization proponent misled us about credentials, B.C. company says
A British Columbia company says a man involved in an ocean fertilization project made misleading statements about his credentials and is essentially holding some scientific data hostage. The Haida Salmon Restoration Corp. alleges that U.S. businessman Russ George made false and misleading claims to persuade the company to dump iron ore into the ocean off the islands of Haida Gwaii. The allegations are in a counter-claim to a civil lawsuit filed by George, in which he claims he was wrongly dismissed by the company.

Are Whales At Risk From Navy Sonar Training Plans?
Active sonar is the Navy’s best weapon to detect the presence of hostile submarines. But that same powerful underwater pulse of sound can harm or even kill whales and other marine mammals. Now, the Navy is seeking permission to continue using a huge swath of the Northwest coast – from northern California to the Canadian border -- for a wide range of naval training and practice, including sonar. The Navy says it’s taking precautions, but others say it’s not enough. On May 5th, 2003, Ken Balcomb noticed something very strange in  Haro Strait, a body of water along the US-Canadian border in Washington State. Ken Balcomb: “All the porpoises and the minke whales and the  killer whales were fleeing the area.” Liam Moriarty reports. (Jefferson Public Radio)

North American scientists track incoming Fukushima plume
The likely scale of the radioactive plume of water from Fukushima due to hit the west coast of North America should be known in the next two months. Only minute traces of pollution from the beleaguered Japanese power plant have so far been recorded in Canadian continental waters. This will increase as contaminants disperse eastwards on Pacific currents. But scientists stress that even the peak measurements will be well within the limits set by safety authorities. (BBC News)

SNAPSHOT IN TIME: MAGNOLIA | The continuing battle for West Point
Some of the most significant battles pitted Magnolia citizens against public agencies. A battle with the U.S. Army eventually brought Discovery Park into the Seattle parks system. A battle against the Port of Seattle resulted in the Treaty of Magnolia. Magnolia did not win every battle, and some battles remain unresolved. The battle over the West Point Sewage Treatment Plant, for example, is in remission.... The beach at West Point is back in the news, specifically regarding a 2013 proposal to install a security gate to control vehicle access to the beach, permit-only parking area, lighthouse and treatment plant. According to the King County Wastewater Treatment Division (WTD) website, “West Point Wastewater Treatment staff and Seattle Parks and Recreation staff have responded to driftwood fires, illegal parking that blocks access to the treatment plant and trespassing after-hours.” Joely Johnson Mark writes. (Magnolia-Queen Anne News)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 300 AM PST WED FEB 26 2014
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT THROUGH THIS AFTERNOON
TODAY
SE WIND 15 TO 25 KT. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT. W SWELL 6 FT AT 16 SECONDS.
TONIGHT
SE WIND TO 10 KT...BECOMING E AFTER MIDNIGHT. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 7 FT AT 13 SECONDS. A CHANCE OF RAIN AFTER
 MIDNIGHT.

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