Wednesday, April 15, 2015

4/15 Spilled oil, Navy tow, Shell drill, oil tax, toxic fish, Saanich bylaw, Bainbridge SMP, Kply, climate, protected puffins, orca noise, Deschutes cleanup, kelp study, Dick Goin, tsunami

English Bay oil (Vancouver Aquarium/CBC)
Vancouver oil spill was small but 'nasty' and spread quickly
The oil spill in Vancouver's English Bay last week was relatively small, but the highly toxic bunker fuel spread quickly, and will keep washing up on beaches, said city manager Penny Ballem in an update to council. Ballem said it's still not clear exactly how much Bunker C fuel oil spilled from the grain ship Marathassa on April 8, despite estimates from the coast guard that approximately 2,700 litres were released. But Ballem said the fuel is highly toxic and very viscose or thick, so it forms globs that are carried to distant beaches, including some 12 kilometres away from the spill site at New Brighton Park in East Vancouver. Lisa Johnson reports. (CBC) See also: Vancouver oil spill stops recreational shellfish and groundfish fishing  Lisa Johnson reports. (CBC) See also: B.C. minister says Coast Guard took more than a day to take control of Vancouver fuel spill  Sunny Dhillon and Justine Hunter report. (Globe and Mail)

Navy cargo ship towed into Port Angeles Harbor after losing power in Strait
A Navy Military Sealift Command cargo ship was towed into Port Angeles on Saturday after it lost power overnight in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The 685-foot Cape Intrepid was undergoing sea trials after a long period docked in Tacoma when it lost power about 2:30 a.m. Saturday north of Clallam Bay in Canadian waters, according to the Coast Guard. Clallam Bay is 50 miles west of Port Angeles. Coast Guard Lt. Ben Weber said the Cape Intrepid drifted about two miles before the emergency tug Jeffrey Foss reached it approximately two hours later. (Peninsula Daily News)

Coast Guard creates ‘First Amendment zone’ in Puget Sound for anti-Shell protests
he U.S. Coast Guard, with help from activist groups, has identified an informal  “First Amendment Zone,” just north of Terminal 5, where protesters can take to the water against Shell Oil’s Arctic drilling fleet when it arrives at the Port of Seattle. “I didn’t choose this area:  I gave them a chart and asked them where they wanted to be,” Capt. Joe Raymond, captain of the port, said Tuesday. Raymond initiated a meeting on Monday with organizers of a “sea of kayaks” protest. He described the zone as “an excellent place” for protesters wishing a high-visibility presence while not interfering with ferries, tugs and other marine traffic in the harbor. Still, a key player in the anti-Shell protests — Greenpeace — says no accord was reached at the meeting on where sea-borne protests can take place. Joel Connelly reports. (SeattlePI.Com) See also: Headed to Seattle, controversial Arctic drill rig will stop in Port Angeles on Friday  Chris McDaniel reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

House OKs bill to increase tax on oil shipped through state
The state House on Tuesday passed its version of a bill to impose new safety regulations on the increasing amount of oil that is shipped through Washington by rail, boat and pipeline. A modified version of a bill that cleared the Senate in March passed the House with a 58-40 bipartisan vote. The Senate version extended a barrel tax to fund oil cleanups. In that version, the barrel tax is applied to all oil that enters Washington by train but exempts oil that travels by pipelines. Derrick Nunnally reports. (Associated Press) See also: Rules on oil train, pipeline safety not moving fast enough, lawmakers say  Curtis Tate reports. (McClatchy)

Reducing toxics in fish involves politics, maybe more than science
When it comes to eliminating toxic pollution from our waterways and the foods we eat, almost everyone agrees that the best idea is to track down the chemicals, find out how they are getting into the environment and then make decisions about how to handle the situation. It’s all common sense until politics comes into play. Chris Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways)

Lobby group opposes Saanich environmental protection bylaw
About a dozen Saanich residents have created a lobby group against an environmental protection bylaw they say might reduce property values for no reason. The Environmental Development Permit Area bylaw intends to protect sensitive natural areas by requiring homeowners to obtain permits for everything from disturbing soil to building a deck. The goal is to protect areas of high biodiversity, as well as require restoration to damaged and degraded ecosystems during development. But Saanich Citizens for a Responsible EDPA, as the newly formed lobby group is called, says the process for identifying land was flawed. Areas with little ecological value are protected, while others might not have been flagged, they say. Amy Smart reports. (Times Colonist)

Hearings board rejects challenge to Bainbridge SMP
A growth management hearings board has ruled in favor of the city of Bainbridge Island in a challenge over the city's controversial Shoreline Management Master Program. A group of shoreline property owners had filed a challenge to the city's updated plan in October, and claimed it violated state law, conflicted with Bainbridge's development regulations and also ran afoul of the city's and the park district's comprehensive plans. In the April 6 decision, the Central Puget Sound Growth Management Hearings Board said the group did not prove its case. (Bainbridge Review)

State Department of Ecology: Cleanup of former plywood mill site in Port Angeles could be finished by September 2016
Cleanup of the former KPly mill site on the Port Angeles Harbor could be finished as soon as September 2016, although pollutants could linger there another three decades. Those contaminants, however, will be capped, excavated and trucked off, consumed by bacteria or ventilated away by any future user of the 19 acres at 439 Marine Drive in Port Angeles, about two dozen people at a community meeting were told Wednesday. James Casey reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Cliff Mass Explains How Climate Change Will Impact Northwest Weather In the Next Century
Cliff Mass is one of the region’s clearest communicators about the weather. We talked this week about the impacts of climate change in the next century. He has indicated in the past that we are relatively lucky when it comes to climate change. But there will be changes, in the future. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KPLU)

Warm ‘blob’ off our coast may explain weird weather
A gargantuan blob of warm water that’s been parked off the West Coast for 18 months is part of a larger pattern that helps explain California’s drought, Washington’s snow-starved ski resorts and record blizzards in New England, according to new analyses by Seattle scientists. The researchers aren’t convinced global warming is to blame, which puts them at odds with other experts who suspect Arctic melting upset the “polar vortex” and contributed to the misery on the East Coast the past two winters. Sandi Doughton reports. (Seattle Times)

New Ferry Ready To Serve San Juans Beginning June 14
The brand new, 144-car ferry Samish is set to officially take its place amid Washington state’s world-class ferry system. The new ferry will begin service on the Anacortes/San Juan Islands route Sunday, June 14, just in time for the start of the summer sailing season. On Friday, April 10,  2015 Washington State Ferries accepted the Samish from builder/contractor Vigor Industrial following two months of sea trials and crew training. (San Juan Islander)

State protection changes for puffins, sea lions
Tufted puffins will soon get more protection on the state endangered species list, while Steller sea lions will be removed from the list. The state Fish and Wildlife Commission approved the changes last week. Tufted puffins are native seabirds once considered common along parts of the coast, according to a Fish and Wildlife news release. In recent decades, the population has significantly declined. Now that the bird is listed, Fish and Wildlife will develop a plan to help the species recover. Steller sea lions are being removed from the list because the population has rebounded in recent years. Some protection will be maintained at the state level and under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act, but the sea lions will no longer be listed as threatened. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Orcas Are Shouting Over Boat Noise – And It Might Be Making Them Hungry
Picture yourself at a noisy bar. You realize that you have been shouting at your date all night in order to be heard. Well, orcas in Puget Sound are in kind of the same situation. Marla Holt, a research biologist with NOAA's Northwest Fisheries Science Center, has found that loud boat noise forces endangered orcas to raise the volume of their calls. But the question, Holt says, is "so what? What are the biological consequences of them doing this?” To answer that question, Holt and her NOAA colleague, Dawn Noren, a research fishery biologist, studied captive bottlenose dolphins. Ashley Ahearn reports. (KUOW)

Input sought on draft plan to clean up Deschutes watershed
Thurston County's growing population has contributed to a decline in Deschutes River water quality. The Department of Ecology has released a draft water cleanup plan for the river, and is hosting public meetings to gather comment over the next six weeks. The draft plan looks at the daily load of pollution that enters the river above Tumwater Falls and on streams flowing to Budd Inlet. A second phase later will look at water quality in Capitol Lake and Budd Inlet. The report found a number of factors contributing to a decrease in water quality, including warmer water temperatures, high bacteria and sediment levels, and low levels of dissolved oxygen. (Olympian)

Our lives and livelihoods depend on saving the Salish Sea
Over the past 200 years, humans have drastically altered the Salish Sea to a degree previously associated only with the geological creation of ecosystems. As a result, we have diminished the ecosystem’s ability to provide for us. Audrey DeLella Benedict and Joseph K. Gaydos authors, “The Salish Sea: Jewel of the Pacific Northwest.” (Seattle Times)

Hood Canal kelp studied for future of ocean life
Researchers are planning to grow 3 acres of sugar kelp north of the Hood Canal Bridge in an effort to save shellfish, and thereby larger ocean life. "Sugar kelp is a native species. It grows naturally here in Puget Sound," said Puget Sound Restoration Fund Executive Director Betsy Peabody. PSRF received a $1.5 million grant from the Paul Allen Family Foundation to conduct the research in partnership with NOAA and the Washington State Department of Resources. (KING)

Dick Goin, defender of Elwha River salmon, dies at age of 83
Dick Goin, who gave voice to the Elwha River's salmon, has died. Services are pending for Goin (pronounced GOH-in), 83, who died of natural causes Sunday night at his Port Angeles home surrounded by family members, said Marie, his wife of 64 years, on Tuesday. The Goins received the Clallam County Community Service Award in 2007 and the Eleanor Stopps Environmental Leadership Award from the Port Townsend Marine Science Center in September 2011. Paul Gottlieb reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Fast walking could spare thousands from NW tsunami, study says
A new analysis shows more than 100,000 people are at risk from a tsunami on the Northwest coast — but the outlook isn’t uniformly grim. In many communities, residents should be able to make it to high ground in time simply by walking at a brisk pace. Tsunami surges are expected to slam into some parts of the coast within 15 to 30 minutes of an earthquake on the Cascadia Subduction Zone, the offshore fault where two tectonic plates collide. Published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the analysis takes the most comprehensive look yet at the threat along the 700-mile-long coast of Washington, Oregon and Northern California — and finds surprising variability. Sandi Doughton reports. (Seattle Times)

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