Monday, April 27, 2015

4/27 Train safety, oil spill, KM pipe, Imidacloprid, Shell drill, Polley water, Padden Cr., Seattle CSO, orcas, grey whale, diversity data

(PHOTO: Mike Mercer/BirdNote)
If you like to listen: Seabirds Drink Salt Water
Seabirds have no problem drinking sea water. The salt they take in is absorbed and moves through their blood stream into a pair of salt glands above their eyes. The densely salty fluid is excreted from the nostrils and runs down grooves in the bill. As the drop gets larger, the bird shakes its head to send the salt back to the ocean. A seabird's skull has a pair of grooves for the salt glands right over the eyes. (BirdNote)

Oil Train Safety Legislation Passes In Washington
State lawmakers gave final approval Friday to a bill meant to increase oil train safety. The bill was taken up in response to the uptick in oil train traffic in the region. It directs oil taxes to help pay for oil-train spill response. It also imposes public disclosure requirements for railroad companies operating in Washington. The bill was introduced by Gov. Jay Inslee and three dozen of his fellow Democrats in the House, where their party holds the majority. But by the time it was unanimously approved by the Republican-controlled Senate Friday evening, the bill had undergone many changes. Funding and requirements for enhanced marine spill response, including an extra rescue tug to be stationed in the eastern part of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, were stripped from the bill. Ashley Ahearn reports. (KUOW) See also: Rumble grows over oil trains Kimberly Cauvel and Shannen Kuest report. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Metro mayors give federal officials an earful over English Bay oil spill
Metro Vancouver mayors grilled the National Energy Board Friday on how it would prevent future oil spills, saying the Canadian Coast Guard’s “inadequate response” to the recent spill in English Bay put the city’s economy, tourism and quality of life at risk. Mayors maintain the latest spill highlighted the need for a better emergency response system across the region, noting it took the coast guard hours to respond after a sailor first reported seeing a sheen of oil in English Bay. North Vancouver District Mayor Richard Walton said the “the level of response was far from what our local governments would anticipate.” Kelly Sinoski reports. (Vancouver Sun)

NEB CEO Paul Watson heckled by Kinder Morgan pipeline protesters
Protesters heckled the National Energy Board's CEO Peter Watson, who was in town to meet with Metro Vancouver mayors about concerns over the consultation process for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Watson was heckled by protesters when he said he deeply cares about people, land and water.  Metro Vancouver does not have an official position on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, but Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson told Watson there is lack of public confidence in the NEB. (CBC)

Washington State Turns to Neurotoxins to Save Its Oysters
A pesticide from the group of chemicals linked to colony collapse disorder will now be sprayed in US waters. What could go wrong?…. Imidacloprid is the world’s most popular pesticide, and highly controversial. It belongs to a family of neurotoxins, neonicotinoids, that is increasingly being blamed for colony collapse disorder—the sharp die-off of honeybees that has plagued North America since 2006. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the National Audubon Society, and the Xerces Society, which advocates for invertebrates, have all opposed the chemical’s use on Willapa Bay. But their protests are now moot. On April 16, the Washington Department of Ecology approved the spraying of imidacloprid on 1,500 acres of Willapa Bay and 500 acres of nearby Grays Harbor. In about a month, crop-dusting helicopters will begin dousing both estuaries with the chemical. Bill Donahue reports. (Bloomberg)

Oil rig Polar Pioneer, heavy lift ship Blue Marlin now separate in Port Angeles Harbor
Two giant vessels that arrived in Port Angeles Harbor as one massive unit are now operating separately. The Polar Pioneer oil drilling rig was offloaded Sunday at about 7 a.m. from the heavy lift ship MV Blue Marlin, which carried the huge mobile rig from Malaysia starting in early March…. A 100-yard safety zone remains in place around both the Polar Pioneer and Blue Marlin, which are classified as being a single unit under the safety zone protection as long as they are moored near each other... The safety zone expands to 500 yards if either vessel is underway. Arwyn Rice reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Water near Mount Polley gold mine still tainted, tests find
Water test results following the Mount Polley mine dam failure eight months ago have continued to show periodic elevated levels of metals. The latest results from February and March show government guidelines were exceeded for copper for aquatic life on the Quesnel River near the town of Likely, downstream from the mine. Provincial officials continue to say the water is safe to drink as long as it is filtered, though there have been some exceedances of drinking water guidelines since last fall. And computer modelling by the company’s consultants predict the metals from fine sediment in Quesnel Lake should clear up by August, say provincial officials. Gordon Hoekstra reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Work begins soon to clean polluted runoff into Padden Creek estuary
The second of two projects to improve the health of Padden Creek estuary by collecting and cleaning polluted runoff could begin as soon as June. Its design and construction is expected to cost a little more than $1.1 million. The project still must go out to bid…. People can learn about the project at an open house Tuesday, May 5, at Fairhaven library. Kie Relyea reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Channeling Capt. Kirk: We’re on board with water plan, just one little suggestion
You want our Washington state water beamed down to thirsty California? We have just the spot to tap and it comes with glowing recommendations. Ron Judd transmits. (Seattle Times)

Seattle plans $600 million wastewater overflow project
A Seattle utility unveiled a $600 million plan on Friday to stop millions of gallons of untreated wastewater and polluted runoff from flowing into the area's creeks, lakes, the Duwamish river and the Puget Sound. The plan would involve construction of a 2.7-mile, $374-million combined sewer overflow storage system along the north side of the Lake Washington Ship Canal, just miles from an unrelated headline-grabbing $3.1 billion Seattle roadway overhaul that has been fraught with delays…. The 15-year plan aims to fulfill promises Seattle made in a 2013 consent decree with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state's Department of Ecology to reduce sewer overflows to comply with state and federal law. The Seattle City Council will consider the proposal starting next week. Canal construction could begin in 2018. (Reuters)

Tagged orca makes close approach to Cape Disappointment State Park
After spending a few days on the central Washington coast north of the mouth of Grays Harbor, the L pod of Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW) spent this Thursday and Friday around the southern tip of the Long Beach Peninsula. Satellite tracking of male orca L84 shows him coming within a short distance of Benson Beach in Cape Disappointment State Park. At other times in the past two days, he was zigzagging across the entrance of the Columbia River close to the Buoy 10 line, as well as due west of North Head. At 7:06 a.m. Friday he was roughly a mile west of Long Beach. (Chinook Observer) See also: Killer whale tagging and acoustic studies provide increasing details  Chris Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways)

If you like to watch: Grey whale dissected on Wickaninnish Beach near Tofino
Biologists with Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Parks Canada have dissected the body of a young grey whale on Thursday that washed up on Wickaninnish Beach near Tofino, B.C., earlier this week. Scientists aren't sure why it died, though there is some evidence it was struck by a boat. The 10 metre long gray whale is a yearling and was making its second migration up to Alaskan waters when it died. Researchers took tissue samples from the abdominal and chest cavity of the whale to look at other possible causes. (CBC)

Top Environmental Agencies Release Diversity Data
On April 22, 2015, which marked the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, Green 2.0 released the names of over 25 of America’s leading environmental advocacy organizations who voluntarily submitted their diversity data to GuideStar.... Denis Hayes, who was national organizer of the first Earth Day, and is now president of The Bullitt Foundation, encouraged other organizations to participate in this effort. “We are all most likely to improve the things that we measure,” he said.  “At its birth, the environmental movement was a big tent, welcoming to all who shared its basic commitment to a healthy, resilient, equitable, peaceful future,” said Hayes. “We need to return to those roots.” Hayes is among the few philanthropy leaders who have already made their information available on their GuideStar profile. People of color represent 50 percent of the staff of The Bullitt Foundation and 27 percent of its board. Andrew Lam reports. (New American Media)

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