Monday, August 3, 2015

8/3 Toxin rule, Vibrio, drought, Navy deal, BC spill, Shell drill, BC derailment, North Cr., Kayak Pt., Duwamish

(PHOTO: Laurie MacBride)
Summer School for Seals
Laurie MacBride in Eye on Environment writes: "Perhaps we resembled kindly grandparents. Or perhaps the distance around our boat was just right to safely challenge a young harbour seal. Whatever the reason, we were delighted that out of half a dozen boats anchored in the bay that day, Momma Seal chose ours for her pup’s swimming lesson…."

Water quality rules might be up to feds after Inslee drops rewrite
Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday scrapped a major rewrite of the state's clean water rules, opening the door for the federal government to impose its standard on the state. Inslee, in a much- anticipated decision, directed the state Department of Ecology to not proceed with a stricter water quality standard based in part on how much fish people consume. He explained in a press release that updating this standard was part of his two-prong approach to cleaning up the state's water ways. The other prong — a bill aimed at keeping toxins from being released into rivers by regulating the source of the pollutants — failed to pass in the Legislature this year. Jerry Cornfield reports. (Everett Herald) See also: Inslee backs off water-quality standards; his next move is unclear  Christopher Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways)

B.C. weather linked to 'unprecedented' rates of illness from raw oysters
n unprecedented number of people in British Columbia reported raw shellfish-related illnesses in June and July, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) said Friday. The majority of the 35 cases of Vibrio parahaemolyticus-related infections reported were traced to B.C. oysters served raw in restaurants, the BCCDC said…. Warmer ocean temperatures in the summer mean higher concentrations of the naturally-occurring bacteria are generally found at this time, and this year's unseasonably high temperatures could be contributing to the rise in contamination levels, the BCCDC notes. (CBC)

B.C. drought restrictions expanded for fishing, agriculture
Drought conditions are forcing the provincial government to ban fishing and impose water restrictions for farms in parts of southern British Columbia in a bid to help fish stocks through a hot, dry summer. The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations is suspending fishing in streams for most of Vancouver Island because of low flows and high water temperatures. Beginning on Aug. 4, the only rivers or streams where people will be allowed to fish are the Campbell, Qualicum and Quinsam rivers. The ministry has also restricted water use on farms in B.C.'s Interior in a bid to help salmon that are expected to begin spawning soon on the Coldwater River south of Merritt, where water levels are low because of dry weather. (Canadian Press)

State senators want investigation of Commissioner Goldmark over ‘low’ lease deal
Two Washington state senators have asked the acting state auditor to investigate Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark for an “artificially low” deal with the Navy restricting shoreline development in the Hood Canal. State Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, in a letter to Acting State Auditor Jan Jutte Thursday, wrote: “As reported by The Times, Commissioner Goldmark agreed to an artificially low price on a lease of state aquatic bedlands in the Hood Canal.” State Sen. Mark Miloscia, R-Federal Way, also signed the letter. Will Drabold reports. (Seattle Times)

'Confusion', 'miscommunication' slowed Vancouver fuel spill response: report
Misunderstandings, uncertainty and technical difficulties slowed the emergency response to a toxic fuel spill in Vancouver's English Bay by nearly two hours, a review has found. The review released Friday also found that Canadian Coast Guard staff were unsure of their roles and a faulty provincial alert system meant the city was not notified until 12 hours later. "The MV Marathassa incident was an operational discharge of a persistent fuel oil with high consequences," said report author John Butler. "The response was delayed by one hour and 49 minutes due to confusion of roles and responsibilities, miscommunications and technology issues." Laura Kane reports. (Canadian Press)

Judge says Port of Seattle free to host Shell rigs
The much-disputed lease of Port of Seattle property as a base for Shell’s Arctic drilling fleet was affirmed Friday by a King County Superior Court judge who ruled that the Port didn’t need to conduct an environmental review to use Terminal 5 for that purpose. Coral Garnick reports. (Seattle Times)

Refineries face more liability for wastewater permit violations
A Court of Appeals decision filed at the end of July will increase liability for refineries that fail a wastewater discharge test. In 2012, three environmental organizations appealed language in state Department of Ecology permits for the BP oil refinery at Cherry Point that allowed the refinery to fail whole effluent toxicity tests (WET) without it being a permit violation. WET tests measure the impact of all pollutants in a sample of wastewater on living aquatic animals and are an important component of water quality standards, according to a news release. Shelby Rowe reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Greenhouse gas: Obama to order steeper cuts for power plants
 President Barack Obama will impose even steeper cuts on greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. power plants than previously expected, senior administration officials said Sunday, in what the president called the most significant step the U.S. has ever taken to fight global warming. A year after proposing unprecedented carbon dioxide limits, Obama was poised to finalize the rule at a White House event on Monday…. Opponents vowed to sue immediately, and planned to ask the courts to put the rule on hold while legal challenges play out. Many states have threatened not to comply. (Associated Press)

CP crews dealing with coal train derailment near Sparwood, B.C.
A Canadian Pacific Railway freight train carrying coal has derailed near the southeastern British Columbia community of Sparwood. Eighteen cars went off the tracks in the accident at about 3:30 p.m. Friday. (Canadian Press)

Environmental concerns void Bothell development ordinance
A Bothell ordinance to allow increased residential development in the environmentally sensitive North Creek watershed has been rejected by a state Growth Management Hearings Board…. Longtime environmental activists in the city challenged the council’s approval of a November 2014 ordinance that reduced standards for preserving forest cover, eliminated limits on impervious surfaces and allowed for more extensive site excavation. They argued the new ordinance would irreparably harm the watershed, about 220 acres that include streams as well as North Creek, which support spawning runs of coho salmon and steelhead. Lynn Thompson reports. (Seattle Times)

$2.6M Skagit River levee repair project starts Monday
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will start work Monday to repair 4,050 feet of the Skagit River levee system at nine sites. The $2.6 million project, which includes levees within four diking districts, is expected to be complete in mid-September. The corps and dike districts cost-share the project, paying 80 and 20 percent respectively. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

State regulators break precedent with OK of Island County net pen ban
Washington’s Department of Ecology is willing to let Island County ban fish farming from its waters, but only temporarily. In a reversal of position, the Ecology Department said in June that the county’s Shoreline Master Program (SMP) can continue its ban on so-called net pen aquaculture, but added that the prohibition will likely not be permanent. Dan Richman reports. (South Whidbey Record)

Study at Kayak Point Park will determine if clamming can return
Biologists and volunteers took to the beach last week to dig up, identify, measure and weigh clams at Kayak Point Park. The Pacific Shellfish Institute and Stillaguamish River Clean Water District have partnered to study clam populations along that stretch of shoreline. Research biologists with the shellfish institute are investigating whether Kayak Point could be seeded with clam larvae and eventually reopened for public digging. They plan to have a feasibility study done by the end of the year. Kari Bray reports. (Everett Herald)

$500,000 send-off for Greater Victoria sewage program boss  
The head of the Seaterra sewage program will walk away with almost $500,000 in severance pay at the end of September. Despite the payout, the decision to terminate Seaterra’s remaining project staff — including Albert Sweetnam — was made to cut losses, said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps…. Sweetnam was hired on a five-year contract in 2013 to manage a staff of more than 20 people. His $290,000 annual salary put him at the top of the Capital Regional District’s salary list for 2014. Amy Smart reports. (Times Colonist)

‘Duwamish Revealed’ project means to inspire river’s revitalization
An eclectic series of public-art installations and performances along Seattle’s Duwamish River this summer is meant to draw attention to clean up efforts and the value of the city’s waterway. Andie Waterman reports. (Seattle Times)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 300 AM PDT MON AUG 3 2015
TODAY
W WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. NW SWELL 3 FT AT 6 SECONDS.
TONIGHT
W WIND 5 TO 15 KT...BECOMING SW TO 10 KT AFTER MIDNIGHT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. NW SWELL 3 FT AT 6 SECONDS...BUILDING TO W
 5 FT AT 6 SECONDS AFTER MIDNIGHT.

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