Thursday, May 28, 2015

5/28 Pit-to-pier, Shell drill, water rules, Bay View, derelict gear, oil pipe, safer trains, floods, road $

(Peninsula Daily News)
'Pit-to-pier' project loses court decision in Department of Natural Resources lawsuit
The project nicknamed “pit-to-pier” was dealt a setback earlier this month when a Kitsap County Superior Court judge granted a summary judgement motion that dismissed the project owner's lawsuit against the state Department of Natural Resources.  Thorndyke Resources of Poulsbo seeks to build a 998-foot pier on state-owned land 5 miles south of the Hood Canal Bridge to annually load onto barges some 6.75 million tons of gravel that would be transported on a 4-mile conveyor belt from a quarry at Shine.  In its suit, the company was contesting a 55-year conservation easement announced in July that would block development on more than 4,800 acres of state-owned tidelands along Hood Canal, stretching from the Hood Canal Bridge south to just below the border between Jefferson and Mason counties, something that opponents feel would make it difficult or impossible to continue the proposed operation. Charlie Bermant reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

King County denies waste disposal permit for Shell’s Seattle home port
The King County industrial-waste program on Wednesday denied a permit for discharge of waste water into the county’s regional sewer system from Shell Oil’s Arctic home port fleet based at Terminal 5 at the Port of Seattle. City, state and county officials have now extended an unwelcome mat to the oil giant, but Shell shows no signs of disembarking.  A second giant drilling rig, the controversial Noble Discoverer, is reportedly about to move from its berth in Everett to Terminal 5. Joel Connelly reports. (SeattlePI.Com)

Obama Announces New Rule Limiting Water Pollution
President Obama on Wednesday announced a sweeping new clean water regulation meant to restore the federal government’s authority to limit pollution in the nation’s rivers, lakes, streams and wetlands. The rule, which would apply to about 60 percent of the nation’s bodies of water, comes as part of a broader effort by Mr. Obama to use his executive authority to build a major environmental legacy, without requiring new legislation from the Republican-controlled Congress. But it also opened up a broad new front for attacks from business interests like farmers, property developers, fertilizer and pesticide makers, oil and gas producers and golf course owners, who contend that the rule would stifle economic growth and intrude on property owners’ rights. Coral Davenport reports. (NY Times)

Bay View beach closed to swimming — again
The beach at Bay View State Park is off limits because of fecal coliform bacteria found in the water, indicating fecal matter is present. The results of samples taken last week by volunteers with the Beach Environmental Assessment, Communication and Health program showed fecal coliform counts that surpassed the state Department of Health’s threshold for issuing an advisory, and the beach was closed Friday to recreation, BEACH program coordinator Debby Sergeant said. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Lost nets, crab pots pulled from Whatcom County waters
Divers have pulled 1,339 nets and 653 crab pots from marine waters in Whatcom County as part of the effort to remove lost and abandoned gear that has snared and indiscriminately killed marine life, sometimes for decades. It’s a piece of the larger project to remove so-called derelict fishing gear, also called legacy gear, from shallow water — within 105 feet of the surface — in the Puget Sound. Locally, most of the gear that’s been pulled has come from areas around Point Roberts and Lummi Island. Other locations of note were Bellingham Bay, Chuckanut Bay and Cherry Point, according to Joan Drinkwin, interim director for the Bellingham-based Northwest Straits Foundation, which has led the gear-removal effort that started in 2002. Kie Relyea reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline rejected by Tsleil-Waututh First Nation
The Tsleil-Waututh Nation in North Vancouver said it is denying approval to Kinder Morgan's proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion in B.C., based on a scathing analysis of the project. The nation released a report Tuesday, saying the likelihood of oil spills would increase if the expansion is allowed, with dire consequences for sensitive sites, habitats and species. It concluded the pipeline's effect on Tsleil-Waututh cultural activities represented "unacceptable risks." (Canadian Press)

Kinder Morgan pipeline could pose fire risk in Burnaby, says deputy fire chief
Kinder Morgan's proposed tripling of its Trans Mountain pipeline is a major fire safety concern, says Burnaby's deputy fire chief Chris Bowcock. The oil giant wants to increase its bitumen-carrying capacity to 890,000 barrels a day by laying almost 1,000 kilometres of new pipe near the existing pipeline that runs from Alberta to Burnaby, B.C. But Bowcock says the increased storage capacity that would be needed at Kinder Morgan's Burnaby tank farm on the Burrard Inlet - from 13 tanks to 26 tanks - would put residents at risk. (CBC)

Train derailments climb in B.C.
Trains carrying a range of cargo, including hazardous goods such as petroleum products and chemicals, derailed 124 times last year in B.C., according to federal transportation safety board summary reports based on tougher reporting criteria. Derailments involved as many as 24 cars and almost 200 metres of damaged track and occurred for reasons such as collisions with motor vehicles, spillage of coal on the tracks, broken rails or train axles, rail cars moved onto unaligned switches, unwanted emergency brakes, buildup of ice and snow, and rock slides. Larry Pynn reports. (Vancouver Sun)

20 years after fatal crash, state finally getting satellite-based train controls
More than two decades have passed since a deadly freight-train crash in Longview, yet the state’s passenger and cargo lines still lack a satellite-based control system to avert collisions. But the improvements are finally set to arrive here, perhaps by early 2016. Mike Lindblom reports. (Seattle Times)

How to work with nature instead of against it to tame flooding rivers
When it comes to restoring Northwest rivers, environmentalists are turning to a somewhat surprising approach: tree-cutting. That was the first step in a project near Fall City where crews dropped some 300 trees on the bank of the Snoqualmie River and then ripped out 1,600 feet of levee, rock by rock. The denuded river bank was reunited last summer with a notoriously hungry river. The tree-cutting and earthwork represent a new chapter in reconnecting rivers with their natural flood plains. Championed by the Nature Conservancy and the Puget Sound Partnership, flood-plain restoration has grown into a multimillion-dollar statewide campaign. Mark Higgins reports. (Seattle Times)

Revision to state law allows county to use road fund for marine-related projects
What once were muddied waters should be a good deal clearer thanks to the persistence of a San Juan County Councilman and the signing of a new bill that expands the list of state-authorized projects that can be paid for by local road funds. On May 11, Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law engrossed House Bill 1868, which adds "marine uses relating to navigation and moorage" to the list of authorized expenditures that govern the use of county road funds…. While intended initially as an alteration that would have statewide impact, the bill was eventually tailored for only those counties consisting entirely islands, thereby affecting only Island and San Juan counties. (San Juan Journal)

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