Friday, June 13, 2014

6/13 Phytoplankton, Tacoma PCBs, train risks, train count, pro BC pipe, belugas, Samish wetlands, Foss waterway, Oly isthmus, cormorant kill

Phytoplankton (Smithsonian/Richard Kirby)
If you like to listen: Cruising for Carbon's Impact on the High Seas: Critters who Supply Half the World's Oxygen at Risk
The US west coast is a living laboratory for studying the effects of chemical changes in the ocean brought on by increased atmospheric carbon dioxide. On a recent month long 'ocean acidification cruise' supported by the National Science Foundation, scientists found impacts to marine life at the base of the food web who also supply half the world's oxygen, phytoplankton. The findings have yet to be analyzed in the lab but were the first ever to be conducted in the high seas. Martha Baskin reports. (Green Acre Radio)

With Data and Resolve, Tacoma Fights Pollution
Last year, environmental engineers working for this city had an unnerving worry. After a decade and tens of millions of dollars devoted to a fastidious cleanup of its corner of Puget Sound, Tacoma’s shore front was in danger of being contaminated with a highly toxic chemical. Working their way upstream, the engineers discovered the source of the problem: a storm drain in a residential neighborhood. Black goo stuck to its sides was old grout that contained large concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. Used in local road building in 1975, PCBs, odorless and carcinogenic, were outlawed soon thereafter. Yet they were swept up and sent mostly through drain pipes on their way to Puget Sound. Felicity Barringer reports. (NY Times)

Governor Inslee on oil trains: ‘I want to know’ risks
Gov. Jay Inslee says he wants a full assessment of the risks of using the rails to ship volatile crude oil from North Dakota to Puget Sound-area refineries and a proposed Columbia River terminal that would take four mile-long oil trains each day. The governor on Thursday instructed state agencies to “begin developing spill response plans for affected counties” and get ready to coordinate with neighboring states and British Columbia.  The state Department of Ecology will submit findings on Oct. 1. Joel Connelly reports. (SeattlePI.com)

Citizen oil-train spotters challenge railroad secrecy
BNSF Railway doesn’t want civilians to know how often it transports large shipments of Bakken crude oil through Snohomish County, but a mathematician from Everett can give you a pretty good estimate. Dean Smith, 71, a retired researcher for a federal agency, isn’t on the “need-to-know” list, but he’s got a darn good idea of the frequency and routes of oil trains. He organized the Snohomish County Train Watch, and he and 29 volunteers monitored train traffic in Edmonds, Everett and Marysville for a week in April. Crude-oil tank cars can be identified by their red, diamond-shaped hazardous-material placards that bear the number 1267. They tried to keep track around the clock but missed a few shifts. Even so, they counted 16 shipments of oil and 20 of coal, Smith said. They also tallied another 96 trains, including those of Amtrak, the Sounder commuter run between Seattle and Everett and other freight during the period. Jerry Cornfield reports. (Everett Herald)

Greenlight Northern Gateway 40 politicians, industry leaders urge  
A group of politicians and business leaders is urging Ottawa to approve Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline project. Forty people, including the premier of Alberta and several former federal cabinet ministers, signed an open letter that appeared in national newspapers on Thursday. Titled “Northern Gateway: A Project for Canada,” the letter calls the proposed pipeline one "that’s right for our time.” (CBC)

Whale research at risk if Vancouver Aquarium loses cetaceans
The Vancouver Aquarium would likely survive without beluga whales, but it would be at the expense of some of the world’s most important research into arctic wildlife, according to the heads of two American aquariums that don’t keep cetaceans. Vancouver’s aquarium conducts important research on arctic wildlife, including belugas, that is not done anywhere else, said Jim Hekkers, managing director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, Calif., and Jerry Schubel, president of the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, Calif. Jeff Lee reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Neighbors protest Samish wetland restoration
A 104-acre wetland restoration project the state has planned on the Samish River continues to face scrutiny from neighboring landowners.... The land, commonly known as the Welts property, is part of Fish and Wildlife’s Skagit Wildlife Area referred to as the Samish River Unit. It is on the west bank of the Samish River, south of Bayview-Edison Road. Fish and Wildlife allows public access for walking, bird-watching, fishing and hunting. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Feds seek $3.5 million from Washington Department of Transportation for Foss Waterway clean-up
The federal government has gone to court to try to squeeze another $3.5 million out of the Washington State Department of Transportation for costs associated with the cleanup of Tacoma’s Thea Foss and Wheeler Osgood waterways. In pleadings filed earlier this spring, lawyers with the Department of Justice asked a U.S. District Court judge in Tacoma to allow them to re-open a lawsuit over cleanup costs that was resolved in the federal government’s favor in 2011. Adam Lynn reports. (Tacoma News Tribune)

‘Mistake by the lake’ owners receive permit for hotel, while Olympia council declines $200,000 grant for isthmus park
The public and private sectors want to redevelop the blighted isthmus between Capitol Lake and West Bay in downtown Olympia – but not everyone is on the same page. The private owners of the Capitol Center Building - nicknamed by critics as the “mistake by the lake” - will move forward with plans to create a hotel on the isthmus. Meanwhile, the public is trying to nail down funding and a vision for a park next door to a building that some say the city should raze. Views on Fifth Ltd. received a city permit May 27 to remodel the tower. The owners are still working with engineers and architects, and no timeline has been set for the hotel’s construction, said property manager Neil Falkenburg. Andy Hobbs reports. (Olympian)

Corps Plans To Kill Nearly 16,000 Cormorants Nesting In Columbia River
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to kill nearly 16,000 cormorants nesting in the Columbia River estuary in an effort to protect threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead. The corps issued its proposed management plan Thursday. It would wipe out about half the cormorants currently nesting on an island at the mouth of the Columbia River by 2018. Officials say it’s the best way to reduce the colony to the number of birds required under an agreement that allows the Corps to operate dams on the Columbia River. Cassandra Profita reports. (EarthFix)

Now, your weekend tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 230 AM PDT FRI JUN 13 2014
TODAY
W WIND 15 TO 20 KT. WIND WAVES 2 TO 3 FT. NW SWELL 7 FT AT 8 SECONDS. CHANCE OF SHOWERS.
TONIGHT AND SAT
W WIND 15 TO 20 KT. WIND WAVES 2 TO 3 FT. NW SWELL 7 FT AT 8 SECONDS.
SAT NIGHT THROUGH SUN NIGHT
W WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 1 OR 2 FT. NW SWELL 4 FT AT 8 SECONDS.

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