Monday, June 30, 2014

6/30 James Is., garbage bluff, bombing whales, Ken Balcomb, Fraser sockeye, David Vickers, bag ban, oil trains, BP

(PHOTO: Laurie MacBride)
A Tad Busy in the Pond
Laurie MacBride in Eye on Environment writes: "With all of humanity’s assaults on life these days, amphibians are having an especially challenging time. So it’s a relief to see a healthy crop of tadpoles in our pond again this year...."

Saving the planet, one moth at a time
James Island is a wild place, a rich man’s private retreat floating a couple of kilometres southeast of Sidney. The size of downtown Victoria, the island crawls with fallow deer descended from the game animals imported more than a century ago when B.C.’s premier, Sir Richard McBride, was among those who used it as a private hunting reserve.... In 1994, the island was bought by Seattle telecommunications billionaire Craig McCaw who, although not a golfer, completed the 18-hole Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course begun by the previous owners. There’s also a 5,000-square-foot main house, a half-dozen guest cottages, a manager’s residence, a pool house, a private air strip and a western-themed “village” housing a library, a full gym and kitchens. McCaw put it all on the market for $75 million two years ago....  Not that Tim Ennis cares about any of that. The West Coast program manager for the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Ennis is more interested in the sand verbena moths. They’re way rarer than a Jack Nicklaus golf course. One of the handful of places the moths can still be found is James Island. Jack Knox reports. (Times Colonist)

Work to begin in weeks on project to pull back refuse from bluff in Port Angeles landfill
Work on a multi-million dollar effort to shift decades of buried garbage in the city’s shuttered landfill away from a failing bluff above the Strait of Juan de Fuca should begin in the next few weeks, the city’s project manager said.... Under a $13.09 million contract with the city, crews with Magnus Pacific of Roseville, Calif., will dig up and shift about 399,090 cubic yards of waste buried in the city’s landfill, which was closed in 2007, upland from the edge of a 135-foot bluff to prevent it from falling into the Strait. Jeremy Schwartz reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

U.S. considers dropping bombs in ocean to scare whales from potential oil slicks
The proponents of two controversial pipelines to British Columbia’s coast say they would consider deploying underwater firecrackers, helicopters and clanging pipes, among other methods, to ensure whales don’t swim toward any disastrous oil spill that might result from increased tanker traffic carrying bitumen to Asia. It’s called hazing and documents obtained by The Globe and Mail show the methods have been studied carefully by U.S. scientists before and since the disastrous Exxon Valdez oil spill killed 22 orcas in 1989. Last month, the Washington State Department of Ecology asked Trans Mountain to describe any plans it might have to help whales in a spill. In the preamble to its request filed with the National Energy Board, the department notes the proposed expanded pipeline would contribute to “potential cumulative effects on sensory disturbance,” something that “was determined to be significant for southern resident killer whales.” Stanley Tromp reports. (Globe and Mail)

Center for Whale research director featured in 'gripping' expose about navy sonar
Seven years in the making, "War of the Whales," a 420-page expose of the U.S. military's often secretive use of sonar in marine waters around the globe, and account of those, like [Ken} Balcomb, who, through keen supposition and painstaking science, first connected the dots and then launched a courtroom campaign against the U.S. Navy and its perilous program, is due out July 1. Scott Rasmussen reports. (San Juan Journal)

Despite large sockeye forecasts, terrible 2009 sockeye return still haunts B.C.
Predictions for this year’s salmon fishery on British Columbia’s Fraser River are so massive there’s no historical data to use to forecast the many millions of sockeye expected to return. But no one involved in the fishery would dare celebrate early as the ghost of the disastrous 2009 Fraser River fishery continues to haunt their memories. Five years after the collapse of the run that prompted a $26-million federal inquiry, Fisheries and Oceans Canada is forecasting a summer return ranging from a low of 7.3 million to a high of 72.5 million, settling for planning purposes on 23 million. In contrast, the department forecast that some 10 million sockeye would return to the Fraser River in 2009, but only about 1.4 million showed up. (Vancouver Sun)

Landmark judgment cements former B.C. judge David Vickers’ legacy
The week’s landmark judgment on aboriginal title from the Supreme Court of Canada serves as a remarkable tribute to David Vickers, the late B.C. judge who laid out the approach now endorsed by the highest court in the land. Vaughn Palmer reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Scientists scramble to find out why sea stars are wasting away
A mysterious wasting syndrome is wiping out sea stars along the entire West Coast, with a new flareup in Washington hitting hard this month and walloping Oregon waters previously unaffected. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

Thurston County’s plastic bag ban begins Tuesday
Coming soon to a retail store checkout near you: Paper bags and a 5 cent fee to use them. A plastic bag ban adopted by the cities of Lacey, Olympia and Tumwater as well as unincorporated Thurston County takes effect Tuesday, July 1. Lisa Pemberton reports. (Olympian)

Oil trains: South Sound first responders try to get grip on what new data mean for safety
Two or three trains loaded with Bakken crude oil rumble every day through towns in south Thurston County and suburban Pierce County, and the growing number of 100-tanker trains is bringing risks that emergency responders are starting to scrutinize.... Kathy Estes, director of Thurston County Emergency Management, said last week in an interview that she would like to see more detailed information showing oil volumes, which, according to the state Department of Ecology, have skyrocketed in the past two years. They totaled about 17 million barrels or roughly 250 trains statewide in 2013. But at this point, more details won’t be forthcoming without legislation or additional federal directives. Brad Shannon reports. (Olympian) See also: Aberdeen residents plan daylong oil train protest

BP seeks to wrest back Gulf of Mexico compensation
BP has asked a US court to order a "vast number" of businesses to repay part of the compensation awards they were paid in the wake of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The oil firm said the administrator in charge of processing the claims allowed businesses to inflate their losses. Last year a US court agreed the process was unfair but now the British company wants the money back with interest.... In a court filing on Friday, BP asked a US judge to order the businesses to repay the overpayments plus interest, and requested an injunction to prevent firms spending what it called their "windfall". (BBC)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 300 AM PDT MON JUN 30 2014
TODAY
LIGHT WIND. WIND WAVES LESS THAN 1 FT. W SWELL 5 FT AT 10 SECONDS.
TONIGHT
LIGHT WIND. WIND WAVES LESS THAN 1 FT. W SWELL 4 FT AT 10 SECONDS.
--
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