Monday, June 15, 2015

6/15 Cleanup, watching trains, Shell wins, Fonda protests, ship safety, BC LNG, salmon year, Western Flyer, 'shrooms, orca calf

Volunteer cleanup (KING)
Volunteers clean up local waterways
Saturday was a perfect day to be out on the water around Seattle and a local non-profit gave people the chance to boat and help the environment. The Puget Sound Keeper hosted their 12th annual "Summer Sweep," a chance for people to help get litter out of local waters. It was similar to a fishing trip but the group said thy were hoping they wouldn't find anything. Nearly 70 volunteers, on land and in kayaks, went through the waters of the Ship Canal, filling garbage bags with everything from cans to computer parts. Amy Moreno reports. (KING) See also: Neighborhood volunteers put some muscle into McKinley beautification project  Debbie Cafazzo reports. (Tacoma News Tribune)

Oil Train Secrets: Fighting For Information In The Northwest
Dean Smith, 72, sits in his car by the tracks north of Seattle. It’s a dark, rainy Tuesday night, and Smith waits for an oil train to come through town. These trains are distinctive: A mile long, they haul 100 or so black, pill-shaped cars that each carry 30,000 gallons of crude oil. Smith has been monitoring train traffic in his community for about a year, noting each one on a website he built. He does it because the railroads share little information about oil train traffic with Washington state. They don’t have to because they’re federally regulated. Ashley Ahearn reports. (KUOW)

U.S. appeals court upholds Shell’s spill-response plans for Arctic drilling
Royal Dutch Shell won big on Thursday in its long running legal battle with environmental groups over the oil giant’s planned drilling in Arctic waters. A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Interior Department’s approval of Shell’s oil-spill-response plans for operations in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas…. The three-judge federal panel split 2-1 in favor of Shell. The panel wrote that the National Environmental Policy Act did not apply to the Interior Department’s approval of Shell’s plans.  As a result, no environmental-impact statement was needed. But Judge D.W. Nelson dissented, saying that the Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement should have done an Endangered Species Act consultation as well as an environmental review. The Interior Department has approved Shell’s plans for this summer, although the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement still must sign off. Joel Connelly reports. (SeattlePI.Com)

Jane Fonda drops in to lend support to Greenpeace’s fight against pipelines and oil tankers
Jane Fonda is best known as a two-time Oscar winning actress and a longtime anti-establishment activist, earning the nickname Hanoi Jane for her opposition to the Vietnam War. She showed up unannounced in Vancouver Friday to lend support to Greenpeace’s fight against pipelines, oil tankers and a perceived plan by Shell Oil to move its fleet up the coast from Seattle to drill for oil in the Alaskan sea. Yvonne Zacharias reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Friends gets $100K grant to boost shipping safety
Washington Women’s Foundation recently awarded a $100,000 grant to the Friends of the San Juans to increase shipping safety standards in the Salish Sea…. To reduce the risks posed by increases in fossil fuel exports, Friends of the San Juans will lead a trans-boundary effort in Washington and in B.C. to designate the Salish Sea as a "Particularly Sensitive Sea Area" under the International Maritime Organization. Designation as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area is a tool that the global community can adopt for an area that needs special protection because of significance for recognized ecological, socioeconomic or scientific reasons and because it may be vulnerable to damage by international shipping activities. Worldwide, there are 14 PSSAs worldwide, two within the U.S., in Hawaii and in the Florida Keys. (San Juan Journal)

Petronas gets environmental road map for Pacific NorthWest LNG
The federal fisheries department has provided a road map for Pacific NorthWest LNG to follow to reduce the project’s environmental impact in British Columbia. Plans to export liquefied natural gas from Lelu Island must place a high priority on protecting juvenile salmon habitat in an area with eelgrass called Flora Bank, said Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The department made its recommendations in a report in late May to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA), which is reviewing the project filed by the LNG group led by Malaysia’s state-owned Petronas. Brent Jang reports. (Globe and Mail)

Tulalips welcome first king salmon
The longhouse on the shores of Tulalip Bay echoed with drums and voices and filled with the smoke of twin cedar fires as members of the Tulalip Tribes marked the start of salmon season Saturday. The annual Tulalip Salmon Ceremony is when the tribes honor the first king salmon of the season, bless the fishermen that will work the tribal fisheries and welcome guests from as far away as Alaska and Colorado to a traditional feast. Chris Winters reports. (Everett Herald)

Salmon project set to proceed on Smith Island near Everett
A massive earth-moving project to transform low-lying farmland along the Snohomish River delta into salmon habitat could break ground in August, after more than a decade of preparation. Snohomish County’s Smith Island project would flood about 350 acres now protected by dikes. State and federal agencies consider it a vital piece of the strategy to revive Chinook salmon stocks in Puget Sound. They have supplied grants to cover most of the $26 million cost. The county’s Public Works Department is accepting bids this month from contractors to perform the bulk of heavy construction. Noah Haglund reports. (Everett Herald)

Large influx of pink salmon this summer in Puget Sound
his summer’s salmon fisheries are expected to be splendid, with millions of pink salmon flooding into Puget Sound and a strong return of kings off the coast. Anglers will be blushing with joy as a run of more than 6.8-million pink salmon — which return only during odd-numbered years — will create plenty of show-stopping moments in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound. Mark Yuasa reports. (Seattle Times)

‘The Western Flyer’: a fishing boat’s boom-and-bust history
University of Washington professor Kevin Bailey chronicles the fishing vessel made famous by John Steinbeck in “The Log from the Sea of Cortez,” as it has followed the boom and bust cycles of fisheries all around the Pacific. David B. Williams reviews. (Seattle Times)

The buoys are back: Undersea instruments help predict salmon runs
Olympic Coast Marine Sanctuary scientists have sunk 10 monitors beneath the waves to take water temperatures at various depths along the 135-mile-long protected shore. Sure, they understand the ocean is chilly. What they want to learn is if it's cold enough — specifically, does the water rising shoreward from the cold depths to the surface bring sufficient nutrients to supply the food chain that allows salmon and other creatures to thrive? James Casey reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Mushrooms Help Clean Up Pollution On Former Landfill Site
On a former landfill site in Northeast Portland, a white rot fungus has taken hold – and that's a good thing. It's a mushroom known for its ability to clean up water pollution. Leaders with the Dharma Rain Zen Center are growing mushrooms to clean up the water running off their 13 acres of the former LaVelle Landfill, where a new Buddhist community center is in the works. The landfill was once a rock quarry, and it was used to dump the construction debris leftover after building I-84 and I-205 in the 1970s. As that waste deteriorates, the landfill has released methane gas and various pollutants into the soil and groundwater. Cassandra Profita reports. (EarthFix)

Newborn orca calf spotted near Tofino
A new transient orca calf was sighted in the waters off Tofino, B.C. earlier this week. John Forde of the Tofino Whale Centre and Strawberry Isle Marine Research Centre says the calf appears to have been born this week inside Clayoquot Sound. He says a group of transient orcas were seen entering the area Tuesday and on Wednesday, one of the females was seen swimming with a newborn calf. (CBC)

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