Tuesday, May 26, 2015

5/26 WA lege, Vibrio, 'blob' weather, beach test, Vic sewer, CA spill, Shell drill, BP spill, US Navy, biosolid dump

Barred owls (Paul Bannick/BirdNote)
If you like to listen: Strange Sounds
It's a jungle out there! What an amazing array of sounds birds have to offer! The call of a male Yellow Rail sounds like someone tapping two small stones together. And Turkey Vultures hissing at one another over a carcass sound like a snarling lion. The duet between the male and female Barred Owls seen here is especially raucous. (BirdNote)

State Legislature running out of time in special session
As the Washington Legislature heads into the final week of its special session, few are predicting that lawmakers will finish their work by Thursday. But they do have lots of deadlines pressuring them to finish by the end of June, at the latest. Donna Gordon Blankenship reports. (Associated Press)

Tighter rules aim to limit seafood poisoning from raw oysters
…. Starting this month, there’s a new approach — a first-in-the-nation effort by state health officials and shellfish growers — to curb heat-loving Vp [Vibrio parahaemolyticus] long before it hits the plate. It requires quicker cooling of oysters when air and water temperatures get too warm and closing at-risk commercial beds before illnesses occur. The protocol requires real-time monitoring to determine how fast harvested oysters must be cooled to a safe 50 degrees — and when they shouldn’t be gathered at all. The rules aims to reduce the 40 to 45 infections tied to Washington oysters that are confirmed each year and another 6,000 to 7,000 cases that go undiagnosed, health officials said. JoNel Aleccia reports. (Seattle Times)

Ocean 'blob' could be responsible for warmer temperatures
If you're wondering why British Columbia experienced such a mild winter and early spring, you could maybe blame it on a mysterious "blob" of warm water in the Pacific Ocean. The anomaly was first detected in 2013 by University of Washington climate scientist Nicholas Bond, who coined the term "blob." Since the fall of that year, scientists have been tracking a large mass of water in the Pacific Ocean that is 1,000 kilometres long and at least 2 degrees Celsius warmer than usual. Ocean Networks Canada, which has been studying the phenomenon, says the blob may have formed because a weak low pressure system over the ocean is limiting the mixing of warm waters and cool, nutrient-rich water. Heat is being trapped as a result. (CBC) See also: Q&A: Meteorologist expects warmer, drier start to summer than usual, early start to fire season  Alexis Krell reports. (Tacoma News Tribune)

Officials testing water at popular beaches for bacteria
Officials with the Department of Ecology began testing water this week at over 70 popular beaches around the Puget Sound to check for harmful bacteria that can cause serious illnesses. Bacteria is often to blame for several sick swimmers every year in our region. Officials check popular beaches on a weekly basis to ensure the safety of swimmers. Tom Yazwinski reports. (KCPQ)

Proposed sewer bylaw could mean big costs for Victoria-area homeowners
Homeowners could be forced to make thousands of dollars in repairs or replace cracked or blocked sewer lines on their own properties under a model bylaw being circulated by the Capital Regional District. CRD staff estimate the average cost to repair or replace what’s known as a lateral — the sewer pipe connecting a house to a municipal sewer line — if it’s found to be defective could be between $5,000 and $10,000. The bylaw now being circulated to the municipalities would require homeowners to maintain the sewer pipes on their properties, making sure they are not cracked or broken and that they’re clear of obstructions such as roots or debris and not cross-connected to a storm drain. Bill Cleverley reports. (Times Colonist)

Protesters warn against using chemicals in Santa Barbara County oil spill clean-up
Dozens of protesters chanted "End Oil Now!" and hoisted signs alongside an inflatable mock pipeline on a Santa Barbara beach on Sunday, demanding an end to fracking and other forms of "extreme oil extraction" days after a spill sent thousands of gallons of oil into the ocean and onto beaches. Environmental groups such as Food and Water Watch are also pressing for authorities to publicly rule out the use of chemicals called dispersants in the cleanup of the spill near Refugio State Beach. Christina House reports. (LA Times) See also: Paul Allen was investor in pipeline company behind Calif. spill  Angel Gonalez reports. (Seattle Times)

State To Shell: Long-Term Moorage Of Arctic Drill Rig Unconstitutional
State officials said Friday that it's unconstitutional for Shell Oil to store its Arctic drilling rig at the Port of Seattle's Terminal 5. The Washington Department of Natural Resources sent a letter to Shell Friday, informing the energy giant that short-term mooring of Shell's Polar Pioneer rig at the Port is fine.  But the state constitution prohibits long-term mooring outside of harbors. The Polar Pioneer, a massive floating platform 400 feet long and 292 feet wide, is more than twice as wide as the official harbor area at Terminal 5, where it arrived last week. And for most of Terminal 5's length, its 130-foot-wide harbor area is completely covered by a dock that extends over the water and the state-owned land beneath it. John Ryan reports. (KUOW) See also: Last protester leaves Shell ship after hanging on since Friday   (Associated Press)

Shell chief insists Seattle is best offseason home for drilling rig http://www.seattletimes.com/business/chief-of-shells-arctic-drilling-program-searches-for-the-prize/
Shell’s Ann Pickard says an offshore oil find in the remote Chukchi Sea could eventually yield 1 million barrels of oil daily, and she insists the company has learned from its messy Arctic exploration effort in 2012. Hal Bernton and Coral Garnick report. (Seattle Times)

Once vilified, BP now getting credit for gulf tourism boom
With the Memorial Day holiday here, fallout from the oil spill that left Gulf Coast beaches smeared with gooey tar balls and scared away visitors in 2010 is being credited, oddly, with something no one imagined back then: An increase in tourism in the region. Five years after the BP disaster, the petroleum giant that was vilified during heated town hall meetings for killing a way of life is now being praised by some along the coast for spending more than $230 million to help lure visitors back to an area that some feared would die because of the spill. (Associated Press)

The U.S. Navy’s brutal new war on the Arctic
…. The U.S. Navy already has plans to conduct electromagnetic warfare training in an area close to where I moved to once again seek solace in the mountains: Olympic National Forest and nearby Olympic National Park. And this June, it’s scheduling massive war games in the Gulf of Alaska, including live bombing runs that will mean the detonation of tens of thousands of pounds of toxic munitions, as well as the use of active sonar in the most pristine, economically valuable, and sustainable salmon fishery in the country (arguably in the world).  And all of this is to happen right in the middle of fishing season. Dahr Jamail writes. (Tomdispatch.com) See also: Bombing the Gulf of Alaska  Connie Gallant writes. (Daily Kos)

Navy considering fourth site possibility for submarine escort dock in Port Angeles
The Navy is exploring a fourth alternative for its $16.7 million submarine-escort vessel dock project on Ediz Hook. The site of the fourth alternative will not be released until this fall, according to Navy spokeswoman Liane Nakahara, who said it will be part of the project’s environmental assessment. She said it will be within the area of the Port Angeles Coast Guard station on Ediz Hook. The alternative will be added in light of public comments critical of the existing proposal. Paul Gottlieb reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Nicola Valley chiefs protest biosolid shipment
The five First Nations chiefs of the Nicola Valley took their fight against biosolids on their land to the B.C. legislature on Monday.  The group is calling on the government to stop importing sewage sludge shipped from the Lower Mainland and the Okanagan into their ancestral lands…. For the last three months, Nicola Valley residents have been maintaining a blockade to prevent trucks transporting sewage sludge from entering the area. (CBC)

Now, your tug weather--

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1 comment:

  1. Our Man in Shoreline writes: "Why is it that I'm not impressed with the one hundred plus millions BP is putting into tourism boosting in the Gulf. As if that is contributing to recover, research, and monitoring -- hardly. Like Exxon, there are billions of dollars in fines yet unpaid and they will remain that way with such diversionary strategies eh? Get the locals to like you and there's no fight left and surely the feds are not going to carry through unless there's some local or regional fracas."