Friday, February 28, 2014

2/28 Clean fuel, biomass, ship grounding, stormwater, cable ferry, quake risks, gray whales, 'rock snot'

Got snow(flake)? Watch this (New Scientist)
If you like to watch: Six-sided snowflakes bloom in slow motion
Watch in mesmerising detail as snowflakes crystallise into unique beauties, their rapid growth caught by a high-speed camera. (New Scientist)

Enviro Group Pushing Gov. Inslee To Adopt Clean Fuels Standard
The environmental group Climate Solutions is urging Gov. Jay Inslee to exercise his executive power to adopt a clean fuels standard.  The group's leaders spoke to reporters on Thursday in hopes of adding momentum to their efforts to follow in the footsteps of California and British Columbia. Carrie Nyssen with the American Lung Association says cars and trucks are the largest source of air pollution in Washington state. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KPLU)

State Supreme Court upholds permit for Port Townsend biomass expansion
The state Supreme Court denied an appeal by environmental group PT AirWatchers and other groups Thursday, upholding a lower court’s ruling that granted a permit for the expansion of the Port Townsend Paper Corp. biomass cogeneration plant.... PT AirWatchers Director Gretchen Brewer said she was “sorely disappointed” by the ruling but was gratified the appeal brought the case to public attention. ... Kevin Scott, Port Townsend Paper Corp. director of sustainability, said company officials are pleased with the ruling because it allows them to move forward with the proposed facility, even as its future is uncertain. Charlie Bermant reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Investigation launched after loaded container ship grounds near Steveston
The Transportation Safety Board says it has decided to launch an official investigation into the Feb. 2 grounding of a container ship in the Steveston area. Even though the 222-metre Cap Blanche was aground for about 30 minutes, there are “sufficient issues” for an investigation, Transportation Safety Board (TSB) spokesman Paulo Ekkebus said Thursday. The ship was loaded with containers at the time. There was no damage or injuries, but the TSB does undertake investigations where there’s a belief that the marine community can learn something from the incident, he noted. Gordon Hoekstra reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Port of Port Townsend agrees to settlement before environmental group files suit over stormwater management
The Port of Port Townsend has settled with an environmental group that threatened to file a lawsuit if certain environmental standards for stormwater management were not met.  On Sept. 17, the Waste Action Project issued a notice of intent to sue for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act, requesting compliance along with $20,000 to support an environmental initiative selected by the group, as well as lawyer’s fees....The settlement, approved by port commissioners Wednesday night says the port has done nothing wrong but agrees to 12 measures, several of which the port is already performing, Deputy Port Director Jim Pivarnik said.  In it, the port also agrees to support a Waste Action Project initiative with a $2,000 subsidy along with $14,000 in lawyer’s fees. Charlie Bermant reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

North Vancouver, B.C., shipyard gets cable ferry contract
BC Ferries has awarded a $15-million contract to Seaspan's Vancouver Shipyards to build B.C. Ferries' first cable ferry serving the Buckley Bay-Denman Island route. The ferry corporation says the new vessel will replace the MV Quinitsa, an 80-metre-long vessel built in 1977, and will accommodate up to 50 vehicles and 150 passengers. It should be in service by the summer of 2015. (CBC) See also: Critics pan plan for B.C. cable-driven ferry  (Globe and Mail)

CWU scientists wants Pacific-wide network monitoring quake risks
The campus of Central Washington University is headquarters to one of the largest global positioning systems that studies earthquake risks.  The PANGA geodetic array monitors in real time 500 GPS stations around the Pacific Northwest that track in monitor in detail the compression of the West Coast along a fault line believed capable of a magnitude 9 earthquake. A GPS network in Japan closely tracked the Tohoku earthquake that struck northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011, which killed 23,000 people.  Most died not from the shaking, but from the tsunami waves generated by the quake.  The problem, says CWU seismologist Tim Melbourne, is that the GPS networks aren't sharing their data, and he wants to see that changed. Glenn Farley reports. (KING)

Gray whales are arriving and you see them on trips from Everett
An estimated 22,000 gray whales will swim past Washington’s coastline during the next few weeks as they migrate thousands of miles to rich feeding grounds near Alaska. A dozen or more of the giant creatures are expected to spend a few months in Puget Sound as they bulk up for the trip. The whales don’t eat while spending the winter in their breeding grounds in Mexico’s Baja Peninsula or in the Gulf of California, so fuel stops are needed as they travel 5,000 to 6,500 miles to the Bering and Chukchi seas in the Arctic. The Pacific Whale Watching Association calls it the longest migration of any mammal on Earth, with the whales traveling at about five knots and averaging 75 miles a day on the trip. Mike Benbow reports. (Everett Herald)

`Rock snot´ found to be native algae species in N.B.
New research reveals a nasty, mucus-like algae bloom that emerged in Eastern Canada in 2006 may not be an invasive species after all. Instead, it appears to be a native species that was once subdued by cooler temperatures, but is now proliferating due to global warming. Didymo is a thick, slippery algae nicknamed "rock snot" for reasons obvious to anyone who has seen or touched it. The algae is a concern for fish populations such as Atlantic salmon, as it lines river bottoms, hiding food and making it more difficult for some species to forage. (CBC)

Now, your weekend tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 300 AM PST FRI FEB 28 2014
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 10 AM PST THIS MORNING THROUGH THIS AFTERNOON
 GALE WARNING IN EFFECT FROM THIS AFTERNOON THROUGH SATURDAY AFTERNOON
TODAY
E WIND 10 TO 15 KT...BECOMING 15 TO 25 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 1 TO 3 FT...BUILDING TO 2 TO 4 FT. W SWELL 5 FT AT 12
 SECONDS.
TONIGHT
E WIND RISING TO 25 TO 35 KT. COMBINED SEAS BUILDING TO 5 TO 7 FT WITH A DOMINANT PERIOD OF 11 SECONDS.
SAT
E WIND 25 TO 35 KT. COMBINED SEAS 6 TO 8 FT WITH A DOMINANT PERIOD OF 13 SECONDS. A CHANCE OF RAIN AND SNOW IN THE AFTERNOON.
SAT NIGHT
E WIND 15 TO 25 KT. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT. SW SWELL 5 FT AT 11 SECONDS.
SUN
E WIND 15 TO 25 KT. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT. W SWELL 4 FT AT 11 SECONDS.

--
"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato@salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

2/27 Scallops, ocean acid, coal & oil trains, Vic sewer, pine trees, radiation measuring

Bay Scallops
10 million scallops are dead; Qualicum company lays off staff
High acid levels in the waters around Parksville Qualicum Beach have killed 10 million scallops and forced a local shellfish producer to scale operations back considerably. Island Scallops CEO Rob Saunders said the company has lost three years worth of scallops and $10 million... Saunders said the carbon dioxide levels have increased dramatically in the waters of the Georgia Strait, forcing the PH levels to 7.3 from their norm of 8.1 or 8.2. Island Scallops seeds its animals at its hatchery in Qualicum Bay and they are reared in the ocean in small net cages attached to horizontal "longlines," according to the company's website. The longlines are submerged about 10 metres  below the surface in water about 30 metres deep. From hatchery to harvest takes about three years. Saunders said the company has lost all the scallops put in the ocean in 2010, 2011 and 2012. John Harding reports. (Parksville Qualicum Beach News) See also: Acidic water blamed for West Coast scallop die-off (Vancouver Sun)

Struggling shellfish farmers eye genomic research
Shellfish farmers are appealing to the federal and provincial governments to support genomic research in an effort identify oysters, mussels and scallops suited to withstand the west coast’s rapidly changing marine environment. Oyster and scallop farmers from Oregon right up the coast of British Columbia are experiencing massive die-offs of animals associated with rising carbon dioxide levels and increasing acidity in local waters. Randy Shore reports. (Vancouver Sun)

If you like to watch: How The GPT Proposal Threatens Our Waterfront
Communitywise Bellingham shows how Gateway Pacific Terminal, if built, would bring big changes to the Bellingham waterfront.

Regulator declines to set date for new rail tank car safety rules
The chief of a federal agency tasked with improving the safety of crude oil shipments by rail declined Wednesday to give lawmakers a date for new tank car rules that railroads and safety officials have sought for years. Cynthia Quarterman, administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, also testified the tank car fixes weren’t “a silver bullet,” and were only “one piece of the mitigative puzzle” in making crude oil transportation safer. The rail industry petitioned the agency three years ago for a rule on tank cars, but the process didn’t begin until this past September and could take at least another year to finish. Lawmakers expressed their frustration at the delay and the uncertainty it creates. Curtis Tate reports. (McClatchy)

More oil trains likely to head west
California, the third-biggest refining state in the country, is about to see a flood of oil by rail from places such as Canada and North Dakota as suppliers seek to tap a market isolated from the rest of the country. The western United States may bring 500,000 barrels of light oil by rail a day in 2015 as the region’s refiners seek to replace shrinking output in California and Alaska and more costly foreign imports, Mark Smith, Tesoro Corp.’s vice president of development, supply and logistics, said at a conference this week. California refineries can run 1.63 million barrels a day, the most in the U.S. after Texas and Louisiana, government data show. The western U.S. has become one of the nation’s most dependent on foreign oil as it lacks pipeline access to crude from shale in the middle of the country. Companies from Alon USA Energy Inc. to Valero Energy Corp. are looking to tap the market with projects that would bring more crude into the West by rail. (Bloomberg News)

Esquimalt sewage decision not expected until April
Esquimalt isn’t scheduled to make a decision on locating a sewage treatment plant at McLoughlin Point until April 7 — raising the spectre of millions of dollars in tax dollars flushed down the toilet because of delays. Esquimalt is being offered about $13 million in amenities from the Capital Regional District should the siting of the $230-million plant on the former oil tank farm be approved. The amenities would include oceanfront walkways, a million-dollar bike and path system on Lyall Street, public art, bike lanes, road improvements and $55,000 a year for at least five years to compensate for hosting the unpopular sewage plant. Bill Cleverley reports. (Times Colonist)

UW Prof Confirms Pine Trees Make Particles From Thin Air, Counteract Greenhouse Effect
When you walk into an evergreen forest, you get a whiff of that unmistakable smell of pine. It turns out some of those vapors come from newly-discovered particles that seem to come out of nowhere and cool the forest.  Researchers at the University of Washington have confirmed the finding, which they say will help scientists more accurately forecast climate change. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KPLU)

Fukushima radiation on B.C. coast measured by crowdfunding  
People along B.C.'s coast are being asked to step in where governments in Canada and the U.S. have not — to measure radiation from Japan's crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in B.C.'s ocean waters. Scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Maine, are calling on the public to collect data from B.C.'s oceans for a crowd-funded research project. The website ourradioactiveocean.org is recruiting "citizen scientists," ordinary people who can raise $600 for a home testing kit and then take water samples to return to Woods Hole for analysis. (CBC News)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 300 AM PST THU FEB 27 2014
TODAY
SE WIND TO 10 KT. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 6 FT AT 12 SECONDS. SLIGHT CHANCE OF RAIN.
TONIGHT
SE WIND TO 10 KT. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 6 FT AT 12 SECONDS. A CHANCE OF RAIN.
--
"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato@salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Salish Sea News: Communicate, Educate, Advocate

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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.

--
"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato@salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Salish Sea News: Communicate, Educate, Advocate

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

2/25 BC salmon, smelt fishing, Skagit flood control, BC LNG, Oly dock, North Beach sewage

White February (Vancouver Sun)
If you like to watch: Vancouver’s snowfall seen through social media

Green groups seek federal auditor's help on $26 million B.C. salmon inquiry
Two British Columbia conservation groups are asking the federal auditor general to examine Ottawa's response to a $26-million public inquiry into the collapse of West Coast salmon stocks. The Watershed Watch Salmon Society and SOS Marine Conservation Foundation have filed an environmental petition with the federal auditor. The groups say in the 16 months since the report came out the government has failed to act on the recommendations. Already, 18 recommended deadlines have come and go without any clear action, they say, and another looms next month. The groups want the auditor general to compel the federal fisheries minister to reply to

State might set limits on smelt fishing
Fishing for smelt, a popular pastime among some people, could be restricted to protect smelt populations and possibly even increase the food supply for birds, fish and marine mammals, officials say. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is seeking comments on two options. One would reduce commercial and sport fishing for smelt. The second would close commercial smelt fishing altogether. Smelt are small, silvery fish that spawn on certain beaches throughout Puget Sound.... Total numbers of the fish have never been measured, and the cost of doing so would be prohibitive, said Craig Burley, manager of WDFW’s fish management division. What is known, Burley said, is that the total amount of fishing has gone up in recent years, creating potential threats to the population, especially in heavily fished areas.... For those interested, WDFW staff will discuss the options during a public meeting at 6 p.m. March 21 at the department’s Mill Creek office, 16018 Mill Creek Blvd. Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will take testimony on the plan during its April meeting in Olympia. The commission could take action as early as June. Chris Dunagan reports. (Kitsap Sun- paywall)

Army Corps waits to choose preferred flood control project  
The Skagit River General Investigation Study, now well into its second decade of existence, is going to have to wait a little longer before one of the three proposed flood control projects is chosen to receive expanded analysis. The study aims to give communities results from studies that can be used to get federal funding for flood-control projects. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers met Monday to consider three projects, as well as a no-action project, and choose one to bring to 35 percent design. The corps headquarters asked a few questions of the report and should designate a “tentatively selected plan” within the next month, said county project manager Kara Symonds. Rachel Lerman reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

B.C. prepared to cap local taxes on LNG development
The B.C. government is prepared to limit the power of local government to impose industrial taxes on new liquefied natural gas plants, setting the stage for a showdown over the independence of municipal authorities. Rich Coleman, the minister responsible for the development of LNG, said cabinet is looking at establishing a cap on municipal industrial property taxes to provide certainty to proponents. Justine Hunter reports. (Globe and Mail)

First Nations want a piece of new LNG tax
The Carrier Sekani Tribal Council says First Nations should receive a share of a new tax on liquefied natural gas the province expects to help feed a $100-billion prosperity fund. The first details of the tax for the nascent industry were unveiled by Premier Christy Clark’s government last week. (Vancouver Sun)

Does new fuel dock need more study?
Port of Olympia Commissioner Sue Gunn, the newest member of the commission, took center stage at Monday’s meeting, asking her colleagues to consider more analysis for a proposed fuel dock that would serve recreational and commercial boats in the area. There currently is no fuel dock at the port; the two closest are several miles north at Boston Harbor and Zittel’s at Johnson Point. Gunn raised the idea of further studying the proposed fuel dock because she has several concerns. Rolf Boone reports. (The Olympian)

Small sewage leak closes Port Townsend's North Beach
A “no contact” advisory is in effect for the waters off North Beach Park in Port Townsend, where city officials reported an intermittent leak of treated sewage Monday. Jefferson County Public Health issued the health advisory for all of North Beach, with warning signs at the county park. The public is advised to avoid surfing, swimming, boating, fishing and the harvesting of shellfish and seaweed at North Beach. Shellfishing always is closed in the area because of the proximity of the sewage plant outfall. (Peninsula Daily News)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 300 AM PST TUE FEB 25 2014
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT THROUGH THIS AFTERNOON
TODAY
E WIND 15 TO 25 KT. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT. W SWELL 4 FT AT 14 SECONDS. A CHANCE OF RAIN THIS MORNING.
TONIGHT
E WIND 15 TO 25 KT. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT. W SWELL 4 FT AT 12 SECONDS.

--
"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato@salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Salish Sea News: Communicate, Educate, Advocate

Follow on Twitter.

Salish Sea Communications: Truth Well Told

Monday, February 24, 2014

2/24 Snow, oil train, herring fishery, BC LNG, tugboats, Mukilteo shore, drought, Skagit water health

Winter Garden Crocuses (Laurie MacBride)
If you like to watch: Little Yellow Messengers
Laurie MacBride in Eye on on Environment writes: "Patches of bright yellow, bearing a promise of spring: exactly what I like to see in my February garden. Some snow has fallen since I took this photo a couple of days ago, so I know we’re not completely out of the winter woods yet. Nonetheless, as I look at these little crocuses on my computer screen I feel reassured by their cheery, upturned faces. They seem to express an utter joy in being alive, and they tell me that spring is almost here...."

Northern Exposure: Bellingham area could get more snow Monday; thousands without power and Heavy snow forces Vancouver Island school closures

Anti-oil train rolls through Seattle City Hall
They marched up the steps of Seattle City Hall using cardboard cutouts to represent an oil train. Members of the group 350 Seattle were not there to protest the Seattle City Council, but to praise it. The group supports a council resolution that would push for more information about increasing oil shipments rolling down the rails through Seattle and increased inspections of rail cars and tracks. Gary Chittim reports. (KING)

Judge overrules minister’s decision to open herring fishery
B.C. First Nations won a major victory Friday when a Federal Court judge granted an injunction blocking the opening this year of a herring fishery on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The decision came after an internal memo revealed Fisheries Minister Gail Shea overruled recommendations of scientists in her own department. (Vancouver Sun)

If you like to watch: Tugboats pull the world into Puget Sound  
Sunday's Pacific NW Magazine features "Tugboats are the little engines that can," a peek into the powers that bring commerce from all over the world into our region by staff writer Susan Kelleher and photos by Bettina Hansen. (Seattle Times)

LNG industry job training discussions get thumbs up from labour, government
B.C. labour leaders say after months of work they are genuinely pleased with an olive branch proposal from Premier Christy Clark to develop a strategy to fill thousands of skilled jobs in the liquefied natural gas industry. B.C. Federation of Labour president Jim Sinclair said he and his labour colleagues have had “a positive discussion” with the government, First Nations and corporate employers in meetings since the premier launched the LNG working group in September. (Vancouver Sun)

Liquefied natural gas companies say B.C. LNG tax too high  
One of the first questions British Columbia's Finance Minister Mike de Jong was asked when he introduced the Liberal government's proposed Liquefied Natural Gas Income Tax as part of last week's budget, was how oil and gas companies would react to paying a tax that could top out at seven per cent. But de Jong pointed to a recent government-commissioned Ernst and Young survey that concluded B.C.'s all-in taxes — corporate, federal, provincial, municipal, carbon and the new LNG tax — put the province near or at the top of the heap compared to the tax regimes of potential competitors in Australia and the United States. (CBC News)

If you like to watch: The Growth in Oil-By-Rail in One Picture
Railroads now move 57 times more oil on trains than just a few years ago. Eric de Place draws you a picture. (Sightline)

Tentative plan made to divide former tank farm on Mukilteo's shoreline
The mosaic of the new Mukilteo waterfront is beginning to come into view. Five government agencies have drawn up a tentative plan for dividing the 22-acre former U.S. Air Force tank farm on the city's shoreline. The state for years has planned a new ferry terminal for the site, but that takes up less than half the land. As for the rest, it's been anybody's guess. The first step in determining how the property will be used — its ownership — may be settled soon. The Port of Everett recently received the land as a donation from the Air Force and is negotiating deals on parcels with the state, the city of Mukilteo, Sound Transit and the Tulalip Tribes. Bill Sheets reports. (Everett Herald)

Amid California Drought, Migrating Birds Enjoy Pop-Up Cuisine
Millions of birds migrate through California this time of year, but the waterways and wetlands they rely on for food and rest are largely dry due to the ongoing drought. So farmers are keeping their fields flooded to make temporary wetlands, providing a place for migrating birds to rest and eat. Rice farmer Douglas Thomas is one of these farmers. On a recent morning some 3,000 snow geese float in his rice fields in California's Central Valley. He's watching a young bald eagle awkwardly dive at the flock.... The birds come here because Thomas always keeps his fields flooded in January. The water decomposes the rice straw left over from the previous year's harvest. Usually, at the end of January, he says, "we would let our water go and start trying to dry our fields out because the lake that's in front of us has to be dry enough to drive a tractor in it and then we've got to seed it." But not this year. Thomas is leaving water on his fields a little longer as part of an experiment. Lauren Sommer reports. (NPR)

Learn about health of county’s waterways Thursday
An annual report on the health of local streams will be presented to the community Thursday by Skagit County, the Skagit Conservation District and the Padilla Bay Research Reserve. The agencies will present oxygen, temperature and fecal coliform bacteria data for the Samish and Skagit watersheds including both rivers, their tributaries and other creeks, sloughs and basins. County employees and volunteers with the Conservation District’s Skagit Stream Team and Storm Team collected the data from October 2012 through September 2013. The meeting will be held at the Padilla Bay Research Reserve, 10441 Bay View-Edison Road, Mount Vernon, 6:30 PM. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 847 AM PST MON FEB 24 2014
GALE WARNING IN EFFECT UNTIL 10 AM PST THIS MORNING
 SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT THROUGH LATE TONIGHT
TODAY
E WIND 25 TO 35 KT...EASING TO 20 TO 30 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. COMBINED SEAS 4 TO 7 FT WITH A DOMINANT PERIOD OF
 14 SECONDS. RAIN AND SNOW.
TONIGHT
E WIND 20 TO 30 KT. WIND WAVES 3 TO 5 FT. W SWELL 2 FT AT 14 SECONDS. RAIN...THEN RAIN LIKELY AFTER MIDNIGHT.
--
"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato@salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Salish Sea News: Communicate, Educate, Advocate

Follow on Twitter.

Salish Sea Communications: Truth Well Told

Friday, February 21, 2014

2/21 RR creosote, oil tank upgrade, Navy bombs, BC ferry, wee battery, body heat light, Fukushima spill

Data In Data Out (Dennis Hlynsky/Crosscut)
If you like to watch: Digital Prospector: A time lapse of birds
Artist Dennis Hlynsky captures birds in time. Rustin Thompson explains.

Creosote from new railroad ties flowing into salmon streams
Toxic creosote is usually a problem from the past we have to deal with today, but freshly applied creosote is leaching into Whatcom County streams. Gary Chittim reports.

BNSF Plans To Upgrade Tanker Fleet After Accidents
BNSF Railway Co. said Thursday it intends to buy a fleet of 5,000 strengthened tank cars to haul oil and ethanol in a move that would set a higher benchmark for safety within an industry that’s seen multiple major accidents. The voluntary step by the Texas-based subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. comes as railroads in the U.S. and Canada are under intense pressure to improve safety for hazardous materials shipments.

Navy Looks To Renew Permits For Bombing And Sonar Exercises In The Northwest
The Navy is pursuing permits to continue conducting sonar and explosives exercises in a large area of the Pacific Ocean — and that’s putting marine mammal advocates on high alert. Public hearings kick off next week as the Navy gathers public comments on its draft environmental impact statement for the Northwest training and testing range. The range stretches from northern California to the Canadian border. Ashley Ahearn reports.

BC Ferries gets approval to build cable-ferry system between Vancouver, Denman islands
BC Ferries has received approval to build what could be one of the world's longest cable-ferry systems but the service is remaining mum about the expected cost for the Vancouver Island project.

Battery small enough to be injected, energetic enough to track salmon
Scientists have created a microbattery that packs twice the energy compared to current microbatteries used to monitor the movements of salmon. The battery is just slightly larger than a long grain of rice, however is not the world's smallest battery. Engineers have created batteries far tinier than the width of a human hair, but those smaller batteries don't hold enough energy to power acoustic fish tags. The new battery is small enough to be injected into an organism and holds much more energy than similar-sized batteries.

Jimmy Fallon turns spotlight on Victoria teen’s flashlight
Sixteen-year-old Victoria scientist Ann Makosinski was a guest on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon Wednesday night, showing off the body heat-powered flashlight that won her top prize at the 2013 Google Science Fair. In a segment called ‘Fallonventions,’ the teen scientist demonstrated her flashlight. Fallon responded by showing Makosinski his own creation, the Granola Bowla, an edible cereal bowl.

Worst spill in 6 months at stricken Japanese nuclear plant
About 100 tons of highly radioactive water leaked from one of the hundreds of storage tanks at the Fukushima nuclear plant, its operator said Thursday, calling it the worst spill at the plant in six months. The operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., or Tepco, said the leak, discovered Wednesday and stopped Thursday, happened far enough from the plant’s waterfront that none of the radioactive water was likely to reach the Pacific Ocean, as has happened during previous spills. Martin Fackler reports.

Now, your weekend tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 232 AM PST FRI FEB 21 2014
TODAY
N WIND 10 TO 20 KT...BECOMING NW 10 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 1 TO 3 FT...SUBSIDING TO 1 FT OR LESS IN THE AFTERNOON.
 W SWELL 7 FT AT 11 SECONDS.
TONIGHT
NW WIND TO 10 KT...BECOMING W 10 KT AFTER MIDNIGHT. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 5 FT AT 11 SECONDS. SLIGHT CHANCE OF
 SHOWERS.
SAT
NW WIND 10 KT...BECOMING SE IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 5 FT AT 17 SECONDS. SLIGHT CHANCE OF RAIN IN
 THE MORNING...THEN RAIN LIKELY IN THE AFTERNOON.
SAT NIGHT
SE WIND 10 TO 20 KT...BECOMING E 15 TO 25 KT AFTER MIDNIGHT. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT. W SWELL 5 FT AT 16 SECONDS.
SUN
NE WIND 20 TO 30 KT...BECOMING E 25 TO 35 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. COMBINED SEAS 4 TO 7 FT WITH A DOMINANT PERIOD OF
 15 SECONDS.

--
"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato@salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Thursday, February 20, 2014

2/20 Herring, boat waste, train tax, more trains, spill watch, Keystone, brownfields, Powel shore, halibut suit

(PHOTO: National Geographic)
Today’s the deadline for the 2014 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference early bird registration rate. Register here.

Ban on toxic creosote pilings sought after successful herring spawn in False Creek
Herring have spawned in False Creek thanks to volunteers wrapping toxic creosote pilings with plastic, a success story that is prompting calls for Canada to ban creosote in favour of concrete or steel pilings. Volunteers with Squamish Streamkeepers Society wrapped plastic around pilings at the commercial fishing docks at False Creek at low tide on Jan. 19, society member John Buchanan said Wednesday. Schools of herring appeared on Valentine's Day, Feb. 14, a full moon. Larry Pynn reports.

Boaters Beware: State Wants to Ban Sewage Dumping in Puget Sound  
It might surprise you to learn that you can dump the contents of your toilet into Puget Sound and not get in trouble. That’s essentially what some boaters do when they discharge their sewage into the water instead of pumping it out at a dock or marina. The state Department of Ecology has proposed a federally-enforced ban on dumping in Puget Sound to stop the practice. Amy Jankowiak with the state Department of Ecology says the state has been working on evaluating the feasibility and appropriateness of putting a dumping ban in place for two years. The department has now written the proposed law, which is ready for public comment.

Washington State Senators Propose Tax On Oil Train Shipments  
Powerful members of the Washington state Senate are on board with a plan to tax crude oil shipped into the state by rail. The money raised would pay for oil spill response and clean up. The proposed legislation would expand an existing barrel tax paid only by seaborne oil tankers. Republican Sen. Doug Ericksen says extending the tax is fair. “Every tanker coming into our refinery today pays a 5-cents-per-barrel tax that goes into oil spill prevention and response,” Ericksen says. “We believe we should apply that to rail cars coming in and we have a bi partisan bill that would apply the barrel tax to the rail cars also.” Taylor Winkel reports.

Meet 'The Funnel': Will farmers, businesses suffer from more coal and oil trains?
(They) call it “The Funnel,” a 70-mile confluence of BNSF rail tracks that feeds nearly 50 trains daily into Spokane and, according to an exhaustive research study, as many as 82 additional coal and oil trains could cascade into The Funnel in another decade. The study warns that the “heavy traffic ahead” could damage both agriculture and intermodal shipping that must compete with coal and oil trains on a rail system that faces limits both around Spokane and across the state. Big Energy’s race to the Pacific has already generated a lot of controversy west of the Cascades, but impacts on Eastern Washington, the Columbia Gorge and Montana are likely to be even more significant, according to the report for the Western Organization of Resource Councils, based in Billings. Floyd McKay reports.

Ottawa boosts ship surveillance
Vancouver Island environmental groups are warning that a federal plan to expand marine pollution surveillance won’t be effective against a major spill. Transport Minister Lisa Raitt said Wednesday that funding for the aerial surveillance program will increase from $5 million to roughly $10 million a year over five years, allowing the country’s three surveillance aircrafts to increase the number of flights to spot oil spills off Canadian coasts. The fleet currently spends 2,080 hours a year in the air and Raitt said that time will increase to 3,750 with the new money.... Brian Falconer, marine operations co-ordinator for the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, said pollution-monitoring is positive but has nothing to do with potential spills...Falconer said aerial monitoring will pick up on smaller discharges, which can cause chronic problems for marine mammals and birds. But it won’t reduce the possibility of a “catastrophic spill.” Amy Smart reports.

Nebraska law that allowed Keystone XL struck down
A Nebraska judge on Wednesday struck down a law that allowed the Keystone XL pipeline to proceed through the state, a victory for opponents who have tried to block the project that would carry oil from Canada to Texas refineries. Lancaster County Judge Stephanie Stacy issued a ruling that invalidated Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman's approval of the route. Stacy agreed with opponents' arguments that the law passed in 2012 improperly allowed Heineman to give Calgary-based TransCanada Corp. the power to force landowners to sell their property for the project. Stacy said the decision to give TransCanada eminent domain powers should have been made by the Nebraska Public Service Commission, which regulates pipelines and other utilities. A spokeswoman for Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning said the state will appeal the ruling. Heineman said he supports the decision to appeal. Grant Schulte reports.

Everett to Study Contaminated Industrial Sites to Meet Demand For Future Growth
Everett’s industrial past may be stalling its future as contaminated areas, known as brownfield sites, are keeping development from moving forward in some of the most desirable parts of the city. Today the City of Everett announced it has received grants of approximately $400,000.00 to study the city’s brownfields and come up with a plan to take back the contaminated land for use as residential and commercial development.

Landowners Make Way for More Shoreline
On Bainbridge Island, Washington, a transformation is occurring: 7.5 acres of shoreline previously starved of natural vegetation and organisms has begun to recover. Salt marsh vegetation is returning, juvenile salmon can safely swim along the banks, and the shore is reshaping itself into a gentle slope. Sarah Sanborn reports.

B.C. fishermen suing Fisheries and Oceans over halibut strategy
More than 400 commercial fishermen in British Columbia have been given the go-ahead to sue the federal government as part of a class-action lawsuit sparked by a halibut-management strategy....(U)nder the program, the Fisheries Department allegedly held back 10 per cent of the total allowable catch and assigned it to the Pacific Halibut Management Society. The society then resold shares to fishermen at higher costs and used the money to fund fisheries management activities. The ruling said the strategy began in 2001 but was discontinued in 2006 after the Federal Court found a similar practice on the East Coast was illegal.

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 259 AM PST THU FEB 20 2014
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT UNTIL 9 AM PST THIS MORNING
 SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY FOR HAZARDOUS SEAS IN EFFECT FROM 9 AM PST THIS MORNING THROUGH LATE TONIGHT
TODAY
W WIND 15 TO 25 KT...EASING TO 10 TO 20 KT LATE IN THE MORNING. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT. W SWELL 12 FT AT 13 SECONDS.
 SCATTERED SHOWERS.
TONIGHT
W WIND 10 TO 20 KT. WIND WAVES 1 TO 3 FT. W SWELL 10 FT AT 11 SECONDS. CHANCE OF SHOWERS.

--
"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato@salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

2/19 BC plastics, Peter Ross, oil train, BC LNG, propane, coal port, Vic sewer, ferries, Navy pier, hatcheries

The Metropolitan Field Guide
If you like to watch: The Experience of 10,000 Crows
Every night from fall to spring, upwards of 10,000 crows fly from downtown Seattle and other surrounding areas to the University of Washington’s Bothell campus, located on the far north end of Lake Washington.

Waters off B.C. coast awash in plastic particles, says head of new ocean pollution program (with video)
Water samples from off the B.C. coast have found up to about 9,200 particles of plastic per cubic metre, the director of a new ocean pollution program at the Vancouver Aquarium said Tuesday. Based on 34 water samples taken between inshore waters and 1,200 kilometres due west of Victoria, the concentrations of microplastics — pieces typically the size of a coffee ground — were found to increase in proximity to the mainland coast. Microplastics can be ingested by plankton, invertebrates and other marine life forming the base of the food chain; ingestion of plastics may make organisms think they are full, causing them to starve. “There is extensive contamination of sea water by microplastics,” confirmed Peter Ross, a former research scientist with the federal Institute of Ocean Sciences in Sidney on Vancouver Island. “It raises the questions: where are they coming from and do they pose a threat to the food web? This will remain a priority for the aquarium.” Larry Pynn reports.

Marine researcher joins Vancouver Aquarium two years after losing federal funding
A former government scientist whose marine toxicology program was shut down in 2012 has found a new home for his work at the Vancouver Aquarium. Peter Ross, a leading expert on the effects of ocean pollution on killer whales and other marine mammals, found himself out of a job when the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) cut funding to his Sidney, B.C.-based lab. On Tuesday, the Vancouver Aquarium announced the creation of a new ocean pollution science program, headed by Dr. Ross, where he will continue some of the work he was doing with the DFO. Matt Meuse reports.

Oil-train safety emerges as hot environmental issue in Olympia
The fight over coal trains, billed as the Pacific Northwest’s biggest environment debate in decades, is so 2013. The new hot topic is oil transportation. Fueled by statistics showing that more oil spilled in the United States last year than in the 37 previous years combined — along with recent oil-train explosions — state lawmakers from both parties and chambers are pushing for quick action.... But Republicans and Democrats support differing proposals for how to do so, setting up a potential collision in the divided Legislature. Brian M. Rosenthal reports. See also: House passes bill aimed at oil train safety   See also: Oil train safety: Political wreck ahead?

Budget estimates foresee huge LNG windfall
The first look at the B.C. Liberal government's new liquefied natural gas tax shows just one plant is expected eventually to pump hundreds of millions of dollars a year into the province's coffers.

Tanker leaks more than 1,500 gallons of propane at Port of Tacoma
A leak from a propane tanker truck was contained at the Port of Tacoma Monday, ending a potentially dangerous situation without any injuries, the Tacoma Fire Department said. The propane leaked when a hose ruptured on a 2,500-gallon tanker truck, said Battalion Chief Jim Zuluaga. The truck was being used to resupply a smaller tank when the hose ruptured, Zuluaga said. Steve Maynard reports.

Corps plans narrow review of Wash. coal exports
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced plans Tuesday to perform a narrow environmental review of a proposed terminal on the Columbia River that would ship millions of tons of coal to Asia. The corps said Tuesday that its review would largely focus in and around the Millennium Bulk Terminals site near Longview, in contrast to the sweeping review of the project being undertaken by state and local regulators. The state Department of Ecology and Cowlitz County said last week they plan to review impacts that extend well beyond the project site, including global-warming effects from burning the exported coal in Asia, and rail impacts as coal is shipped by train from the Rockies through the state. Phuong Le reports.

Lawsuits Could Lead To Changes At Fish Hatcheries
People on the West Coast have counted on fish hatcheries for more than a century to help rebuild populations of salmon and steelhead and bring them to a level where government would no longer need to regulate fisheries. But hatcheries have thus far failed to resurrect wild fish runs and artificially bred fish have come to dominate rivers. Critics say their influx harms wild salmon and masks the fact that wild populations are barely hanging on. Now, hatcheries are facing court challenges in Oregon, California and Washington state — though state and federal officials say they are already working to address the problems they cause.

Sewage plan gets public airing in Esquimalt
A planned two days of public hearings into the controversial proposal to rezone McLoughlin Point for a sewage treatment plant got underway with an overflow house at the Esquimalt Recreation Centre Tuesday evening. This is the second time the Capital Regional District has sought approval from the municipality to locate a sewage treatment plant on the former oil-tank farm at the entrance to the Inner Harbour. Following hearings last summer Esquimalt councillors rejected the CRD’s application arguing the offered $1 million amenity package that included upgrades to electrical and firefighting services, a public walkway and road and bike-lane improvements wasn’t enough. Instead, council passed its own alternate bylaw that would allow the CRD to build at McLoughlin only if the regional government offered more amenities, barged all construction material to the site to avoid traffic and safety problems and paid $55,000 a year into an amenity fund. After months of negotiation, that’s pretty much what is now on the table. Bill Cleverley reports.

Washington State Ferries: Born From A Rates War
In 1948, at the height of discontent over a Puget Sound transportation controversy, a group of agitated locals, nicknamed the “Vashon vigilantes,” prevented the ferry Illahee from docking. A local business man, two candidates for governor and a network of traversing boats came to a head over a seemingly simple issue: how much to charge to cross the waterways between cities and islands. From the 1920s to the 1940s, Captain Alexander Peabody ran the Black Ball Ferry Line, buying up small ferry companies that made up the Mosquito Fleet, until he acquired a virtual monopoly on ferry crossings on Puget Sound. Kara McDermott and Dominic Black report.

BC Ferries a bloated, inefficient and recessionary drag on the province
A central argument for privatizing British Columbia’s ferry system was that a strict business model would prove far more efficient than continuing the system under provincial control. Instead, the privatized model has yielded bloated management, lack of transparency, increasingly inefficient service and rapidly rising costs that now threaten perhaps $500 million in annual provincial tax revenue and place a recessionary drag on perhaps $50 billion in provincial economic productivity. Stephen Hume reports.

Diver has concerns about artificial reef beneath location of proposed Navy dock in Port Angeles
To scuba-diving instructor Bill Roberds, a 30,000-square-foot mini-mountain of underwater riprap at the base of Ediz Hook is more than a pile of rocks. From Roberds' perspective, the Navy wants to build a dock directly above the richly populated artificial reef, potentially cutting off the area to divers and harming the habitat. The Navy is exploring construction of a 200-foot, L-shaped pier for Coast Guard escort and Navy blocking vessels for Bangor Naval Base submarines in an as-yet unbudgeted $15 million project that would include an 8,300-square-foot shore-side building with temporary sleeping quarters, officials said last week. Paul Gottlieb reports.

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 223 AM PST WED FEB 19 2014
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT THROUGH THIS AFTERNOON
 GALE WARNING IN EFFECT FROM LATE THIS AFTERNOON THROUGH THIS EVENING
TODAY
W WIND 10 TO 20 KT...BECOMING 10 TO 15 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 1 TO 3 FT. W SWELL 13 FT AT 13 SECONDS.
 SHOWERS LIKELY.
TONIGHT
SW WIND 25 TO 35 KT...BECOMING W 20 TO 30 KT AFTER MIDNIGHT. COMBINED SEAS 12 TO 14 FT WITH A DOMINANT PERIOD OF
 14 SECONDS. RAIN.
--
"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato@salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Salish Sea News: Communicate, Educate, Advocate

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

2/18 "New" Elwha, 3 Crabs estuary, Mar Vista fine, Whale Trail presents, ferry work, flood maps

“Old” Glines Canyon Dam (PHOTO: John Gussman/KPLU)
If you like to watch: With Second Dam Nearly Gone, New Era Blossoming On The Elwha River
The slow-motion demolition of two hydroelectric dams on the Elwha River is radically changing the landscape near Port Angeles, but it’s not a scene you can witness on your own.  Just a handful of dedicated photographers and filmmakers have been given permission to place their cameras at key posts near the Glines Canyon Dam to capture the changes as crews of skilled technicians carefully notch into the concrete walls and place dynamite in just the right places. Bellamy Pailthorp reports.

$3.8 million project to provide face-lift for Dungeness’ 3 Crabs estuarine area
Rerouting Sequim-Dungeness Way, removing a century of shoreline armoring and expanding wetland lagoons will soon be done under a plan to restore the beach and estuary at 3 Crabs.  Led by the North Olympic Salmon Coalition, the $3.8 million project’s goal is to protect and restore “some of the most high value coastal lands on the continent,” said Jamie Michel, project manager for the North Olympic Salmon Coalition. When finished, the organizations spearheading the project hopes it will help return Meadowbrook Creek to its natural channel as well as make the beach easier for the public to reach. Joe Smillie reports.

Waterfront clearcut at former Mar Vista Resort draws $3K fine
David Honeywell has paid a $1,000 fine for clearing some 80 trees and several acres of shrubs and other vegetation from waterfront land at their Orca Dreams estate, formerly the Mar Vista resort, near False Bay on the west side of San Juan Island. The fine was imposed as part of a “Notice of Violation” issued on Feb. 6 by the San Juan County Community Development and Planning Department. The violation lists Orca Dreams of Spokane, Wash., as the property owner and Dave Honeywell as the responsible person. The notice also included Allen Benjamin Engle, who did the work on the property through his business, Solid Ground, as an additional responsible person. Engle was fined $2,000; he has reportedly told the county he will pay the fine. Steve Wehrly reports.

The Whale Trail Presents: Salmon Recovery Efforts in Puget Sound
Salmon are the key to the recovery of the endangered southern resident orcas. How are the salmon populations of Puget Sound doing, and what can we do to help? Jeanette Donner, manager of the Puget Sound Partnership's Ecosystem and Salmon Recovery Program, is the featured speaker at the February 27 Orca Talk, 7 pm, held at C&P Coffee Company, 5612 California Ave SW, Seattle. $5 suggested donation, kids free; tickets at brownpapertickets.com

Out-of-state companies may get chance to bid on ferry work
Simmering frustration with the cost of building state ferries has lawmakers again considering stricter controls on contracts and relaxing a requirement to build vessels only in Washington. The state House approved a bill Monday to allow out-of-state companies to compete if bids from in-state shipbuilders are substantially higher than estimated constructions costs. House Bill 2759 also would require contracts issued in the future to be for a fixed-price, contain a smaller contingency fund than permitted in the past and be overseen by an independent project manager hired by the state. Jerry Cornfield reports.

Why Taxpayers Will Bail Out the Rich When the Next Storm Hits
As homeowners around the nation protest skyrocketing premiums for federal flood insurance, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has quietly moved the lines on its flood maps to benefit hundreds of oceanfront condo buildings and million-dollar homes, according to an analysis of federal records by NBC News. The changes shift the financial burden for the next destructive hurricane, tsunami or tropical storm onto the neighbors of these wealthy beach-dwellers — and ultimately onto all American taxpayers. In more than 500 instances from the Gulf of Alaska to Bar Harbor, Maine, FEMA has remapped waterfront properties from the highest-risk flood zone, saving the owners as much as 97 percent on the premiums they pay into the financially strained National Flood Insurance Program. Bill Dedman reports.

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 900 AM PST TUE FEB 18 2014
GALE WARNING IN EFFECT UNTIL 4 PM PST THIS AFTERNOON
 SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 4 PM PST THIS AFTERNOON THROUGH LATE TONIGHT
TODAY
SW WIND 25 TO 35 KT BECOMING W 20 TO 30 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. COMBINED SEAS 9 TO 12 FT WITH A DOMINANT PERIOD OF 13
 SECONDS. RAIN.
TONIGHT
W WIND 15 TO 25 KT RISING TO 20 TO 30 KT AFTER MIDNIGHT. WIND WAVES 2 TO 5 FT. W SWELL 12 FT AT 12 SECONDS. SHOWERS LIKELY.

--
"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato@salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Salish Sea News: Communicate, Educate, Advocate

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Monday, February 17, 2014

2/17 Navy dock, sunk boat, discharge ban, state oyster, sewage, geoduck ban, cheap coal

The "new" Elwha (PHOTO: John Gussman/KPLU)
Navy studies building $15 million dock project in Port Angeles Harbor
The Navy has initiated long-range plans to build an estimated $15 million dock and shoreside facility on Ediz Hook. The 200-foot-long, L-shaped dock for Coast Guard escort and Navy blocking vessels for submarines would be built out from an unused barge landing within Coast Guard Air Station/Sector Field Office Port Angeles at the end of the Hook, Bangor Naval Base spokesman Tom Danaher said Friday. It would mark the Navy's first return to Port Angeles Harbor — except for occasional anchored ship visits that have dwindled since the 1990s — in decades. Paul Gottlieb reports.

Coast Guard: 67-foot pleasure boat sinks near Everett
A 67-foot, wooden pleasure boat ran aground near the Everett Marina after its operator miscalculated its position, the Coast Guard said Saturday. The Cape Caution, built in 1939, ran aground in shallow water about 500 feet offshore Friday night. The operator of the vessel managed to get safely to land in a dinghy, but the boat began to list and then was declared to have sunk as the tide came in at about 4 a.m. Saturday.

Meeting to explain proposed boat sewage discharge ban
The state Department of Ecology plans to submit a draft petition to the Environmental Protection Agency requesting Puget Sound be designated a No Discharge Zone, which would prohibit boaters from releasing sewage into the water. The Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve Citizen Stewardship Committee, a volunteer group dedicated to the protection of the marine reserve north of Bellingham, will host an information session about the petition on Tuesday, Feb. 18, with support from the Bellingham-based nonprofit RE Sources for Sustainable Communities. Kimberly Cauvel reports.

Bill honoring oysters closer to adoption
The Olympia Oyster moved one step closer to becoming Washington’s official oyster Thursday, with a bill sponsored by Sen. Brian Hatfield passing in the state Senate. The Raymond Democrat introduced the bill in late January in attempt to bring recognition to local oyster growers. This species of oyster is found in many areas of the Washington coast and Puget Sound, including Willapa Bay. Hatfield introduced the measure at the urging of Claire Thompson, a student at Nova Middle School in Olympia, who suggested the bill as part of a school project.

Bellingham, Lake Whatcom water district set to OK new sewer deal
The city and Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District appear ready to sign a new 20-year wastewater treatment agreement that recognizes limits to residential growth around the lake. Lake Whatcom is the drinking water source for the city of Bellingham and for approximately 4,000 households in Geneva, Sudden Valley and other areas near the lake. In recent years, the district, the city and Whatcom County have been scrambling to reduce the flow of polluting phosphorus carried into the lake when rain falls on developed areas. John Stark reports. And: Malfunction causes sewage spill at Everett station

US asks China to limit shellfish ban to 2 areas
U.S. officials have asked China to limit its shellfish ban to two localized areas rather than a wider swath of the West Coast. A NOAA Fisheries official, Timothy Hansen, sent a letter dated Monday asking Chinese authorities to consider reducing its shellfish ban to one harvest area near Federal Way and another in southeast Alaska. China imposed a ban in December on the import of shellfish after it found high levels of arsenic in geoducks from Puget Sound.

Don’t sell cheap coal U.S. Coal to Asia
Opponents decry the prospect of the dirty, smelly, noisy trains blocking railroad crossings all across Washington State as they transport coal here from the Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming. They also warn that coal dust from the terminal will pollute nearby waters and harm our dwindling populations of herring, threatened Chinook salmon and endangered killer whales. But much larger issues of national and global concern are at stake. The low-sulfur Western coal, strip-mined from federal lands, is valuable public property. The federal government’s leasing of these lands at low cost to strip miners made some sense a few decades ago when the United States needed low-sulfur coal to reduce the amount of sulfur dioxide that was being emitted by coal-burning power plants and causing acid rain. But today, as utilities convert to cheap natural gas and American coal use declines, mining companies are seeking customers in China, Japan and Korea. Shipping this subsidized coal to Asian countries to help them power their factories, which undercut American manufacturers, makes little sense. Yes, this coal will help those countries produce cheap consumer goods for sale in stores across the United States. But it will also promote the continued transfer of industrial work to Asia, especially if the Trans-Pacific Partnership goes through. Is that good for American workers? Physicist Michael Riordan of Orcas Island writes.

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 300 AM PST MON FEB 17 2014
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT THROUGH TUESDAY AFTERNOON
TODAY
W WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 14 FT AT 13 SECONDS. SHOWERS LIKELY THIS MORNING...THEN SCATTERED SHOWERS IN THE AFTERNOON.
TONIGHT
SW WIND 10 TO 15 KT...BECOMING S 15 TO 25 KT AFTER MIDNIGHT. WIND WAVES 1 TO 2 FT...BUILDING TO 2 TO 4 FT AFTER
 MIDNIGHT. W SWELL 11 FT AT 13 SECONDS. SHOWERS LIKELY...THEN RAIN AFTER MIDNIGHT.
--
"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato@salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Salish Sea News: Communicate, Educate, Advocate

Follow on Twitter.

Salish Sea Communications: Truth Well Told

Friday, February 14, 2014

2/14 Puffins, tribes pipe, Hastings, Navy spill, bag ban, Jill Hein, bird count, infected belugas

Tufted puffins (US Fish&Wildlife Service)
Group Seeks Endangered Species Act Protection For Puffins
The Natural Resources Defense Council wants the tufted puffin population in Oregon, Washington and California listed under the Endangered Species Act. The NRDC filed a petition Wednesday, Feb. 12, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to seek protection for the small, penguin-like seabird, known for its distinctive facial coloring and plumage during the breeding season. The NRDC estimates the West Coast population of tufted puffins has declined from more than 30,000 30 years ago to no more than 4,000 today.

Northwest tribes challenge Canadian oil pipeline
Tribes on both sides of the border are teaming up to oppose a major expansion of a Canadian oil pipeline. Kinder-Morgan, a Texas company, operates a current pipeline that transports 300,000 barrels of Alberta crude oil per day to Burnaby B.C. near Vancouver. The company has submitted plans to double that capacity to serve tankers ships that will ship the crude to markets in California and Asia. The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, Tulalip Tribes, Lummi Nation, and Suquamish Tribe in Washington state, and the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations in British Columbia formally announced Thursday they will oppose that expansion on the grounds that it threatens their way of life. Gary Chittim reports. See also: First Nations sign up for Kinder Morgan pipeline hearing

Doc Hastings to step down after 20 years in Congress
U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings will not run for re-election in November, concluding a 20-year career in Congress marked by zeal for conservative causes ranging from support for more energy development on federal lands to opposition to the Affordable Care Act. The Pasco Republican announced his retirement Thursday, saying it was time for a “new person with new energy” to represent Central Washington’s 4th District. Kyung M. Song reports.

Beaches appear clean after Bangor naval base spill of oil, water mixture; shellfish harvest still suspended
Officials with the Navy, the state Department of Ecology, the Coast Guard and Jefferson County Public Health continued Thursday to monitor the possible effects on wildlife of a 2,000-gallon spill earlier this week of an oil and water mixture at Bangor naval base.  “We haven’t yet seen any oil attached to birds or beaches,” said Lisa Copeland, Ecology spills manager. “But we are watching the situation very carefully and are most concerned with the spill’s effect on wildlife and the environment.” After the spill, the state Department of Health issued a shellfish advisory for Hood Canal from Brown Point on the Toandos Peninsula to the Hood Canal Bridge. Charlie Bermant reports.

Lacey City Council votes to ban plastic bags
The city of Lacey finally adopted its plastic bag ban ordinance Thursday night, the last major jurisdiction in the county to move forward with an ordinance that bans single-use, lightweight plastic bags typically found at grocery stores. The council voted 4-3 to pass the ordinance; the ordinance is set to take effect July 1. Rolf Boone reports.

Whidbey resident wins Coastal Volunteer of the Year award
Jill Hein is the newest recipient of the Jan Holmes Island County Coastal Volunteer of the Year award for 2014. The award honors the work of volunteers who protect and restore marine waters and coastal resources of Island County. She was presented the award Saturday, Feb. 1 at Oak Harbor High School. The namesake of the award, Jan Holmes, was an Island County resident and Washington State University Island County Beach Watcher known for her work as a marine scientist, educator and steward of the marine environment. The award is co-sponsored by the Island County Marine Recourses Committee and WSU Island County Extension. This is the fourth year the award has been given.

Global bird count event this weekend
Whether you are an experienced birder, or someone who prefers to watch through the window of your living room, all can take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count. The 17th annual citizen science event runs Friday through Monday. Organizers expect people in more than 100 countries to take part in the count, gathering information that will help track the health of bird populations at a scale possible only with volunteer assistance. Also, participants can view real-time maps and charts on a website that shows what others are reporting during and after the count. Jeffrey P. Mayor reports.

UBC researchers blame infectious parasite found in Arctic belugas on melting ice
Researchers at the University of British Columbia warned scientists Thursday they had found evidence that an infectious form of a cat parasite had spread through Arctic waters and has begun to appear in Beluga whales.Michael Grigg and Stephen Raverty attribute the spread of the parasite to melting ice in the Arctic, according to a UBC news release.

Now, your Valentine weekend tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 300 AM PST FRI FEB 14 2014
GALE WARNING IN EFFECT UNTIL 10 AM PST THIS MORNING
 GALE WATCH IN EFFECT FROM SATURDAY MORNING THROUGH LATE SATURDAY NIGHT
TODAY
SW WIND 25 TO 35 KT EASING TO 15 TO 25 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. COMBINED SEAS 7 TO 9 FT WITH A DOMINANT PERIOD OF 11 SECONDS.
 SHOWERS AND A SLIGHT CHANCE OF TSTMS.
TONIGHT
W WIND 5 TO 15 KT BECOMING SE AFTER MIDNIGHT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 9 FT AT 10 SECONDS.
SAT
E WIND 15 TO 25 KT RISING TO 25 TO 35 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. COMBINED SEAS 9 TO 10 FT WITH A DOMINANT PERIOD OF 12 SECONDS. RAIN IN THE AFTERNOON.
SAT NIGHT
SW WIND 30 TO 40 KT. COMBINED SEAS 6 TO 9 FT WITH A DOMINANT PERIOD OF 12 SECONDS BUILDING TO 11 TO 13 FT WITH A
 DOMINANT PERIOD OF 10 SECONDS.
SUN
SW WIND 15 TO 25 KT BECOMING S 35 TO 45 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. COMBINED SEAS 13 TO 16 FT WITH A DOMINANT PERIOD OF 12 SECONDS.
SUN NIGHT
SW WIND 20 TO 30 KT RISING TO 25 TO 35 KT AFTER MIDNIGHT. COMBINED SEAS 15 TO 17 FT WITH A DOMINANT PERIOD OF 12
 SECONDS.

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"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato@salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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