Wednesday, February 24, 2016

2/24/16 Salish Sea News and Weather: Orcas, drugs, Vic sewer, coal $s, Longview refinery, barking dogs, coho, oil spills, Energize Eastside

(PHOTO: NOAA)
How Do You Keep Killer Whales Away From an Oil Spill? 
Lynne Barre of NOAA Fisheries blogs: "I sleep better at night knowing that we have a plan in place to keep endangered Southern Resident killer whales away from an oil spill. Preventing oil spills is key, but since killer whales, also known as orcas, spend much of their time in the busy waters around Seattle, the San Juan Islands, and Vancouver, British Columbia, there is always a chance a spill could happen. (NOAA)

Drugs flooding into Puget Sound — and its salmon
Puget Sound salmon are on drugs — Prozac, Advil, Benadryl, Lipitor, even cocaine. Those drugs and dozens of others are showing up in the tissues of juvenile chinook, researchers have found, thanks to tainted wastewater discharge. The estuary waters near the outfalls of sewage-treatment plants, and effluent sampled at the plants, were cocktails of 81 drugs and personal-care products, with levels detected among the highest in the nation. The medicine chest of common drugs also included Flonase, Aleve and Tylenol. Paxil, Valium and Zoloft. Tagamet, OxyContin and Darvon. Nicotine and caffeine. Fungicides, antiseptics and anticoagulants. And Cipro and other antibiotics galore. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

CRD aims for sewage decision
A year after Capital Regional District pushed the reset button on sewage treatment plans, local politicians will today debate whether they were right in the first place and should be taking a second look at McLoughlin Point. The idea to revisit McLoughlin comes from Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen, who argues that hundreds of millions of dollars in potential savings are too big to ignore and that by building the plant at McLoughlin, which the CRD owns, the region could still meet the federal government’s 2020 deadline for having treatment in place. Bill Cleverley reports. (Times Colonist)

Amid coal market struggles, less fuel worth mining in US
Vast coal seams dozens of feet thick that lie beneath the rolling hills of the Northern Plains once appeared almost limitless, fueling boasts that domestic reserves were sufficient to power the U.S. for centuries. But an exhaustive government analysis says that at current prices and mining rates the country's largest coal reserves, located along the Montana-Wyoming border, will be tapped out in just a few decades. The finding by the U.S. Geological Survey upends conventional wisdom on the lifespan for the nation's top coal-producing region, the Powder River Basin. It also reflects the changing economic realities for companies seeking to profit off extracting the fuel as mining costs rise, coal prices fall and political pressure grows over coal's contribution to climate change. "You're looking at a forty-year life span, maximum, for Powder River coal," said USGS geologist Jon Haacke, one of the authors of the analysis. Matthew Brown reports. (Associated Press)

Port of Longview Rejects Plan For Refinery, Propane Terminal
Port of Longview commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday morning to end talks with an energy company that wants to build the first oil refinery on the West Coast in more than 25 years. The $1.25 billion proposal from Texas-based Waterside Energy touted 700 construction jobs and 180 full-time jobs. Waterside’s plan detailed a facility capable of refining 30,000 barrels of oil and 15,000 barrels of biofuel each day. The proposed project also included a propane and butane terminal handling 75,000 barrels per day. The plan also called for three additional trains per week carrying crude oil along the Columbia River. The combined crude and biofuels refinery was an attempt to capitalize on the West Coast’s demand for cleaner-burning fuels. That clean fuels component initially intrigued many, including some environmental groups and top state officials in Washington, but the financial and environmental fallout at the project backers’ failed biofuels venture in Eastern Washington ultimately raised many doubts about their latest proposal. Tony Schick and Conrad Wilson report. (EarthFix)

How the Sound of Barking Dogs Could Restore Marine Ecosystems
Once upon a time, bears, mountain lions, and wolves ran the show in British Columbia's Gulf Islands. They're gone now. These days, raccoons are in charge, and they've taken a big bite out of local crab and fish populations. What to do? Play the sounds of dogs barking. Just hearing the sound of an aggressive predator will keep raccoons from going to town on marine life, according to a new study. Whether they're really a threat to people, humans have gone to great lengths to "extirpate" large predators, a team of biologists led by University of Victoria graduate student Justin Suraci writes today in Nature Communications. Nathan Collins reports. (Pacific Standard)

Coho survival study tags 90,000 fish
The Squaxin Island Tribe's coho run has nearly disappeared, so they're taking immediate action with 90,000 fish to figure out why. "The fish that are leaving this facility are not making it out of the Puget Sound," Joe Peters said. Peters is the Natural Resources Policy Rep for the Squaxin Island Tribe. They've started a coho survival study to see why most of the fish raised here never return. Alison Morrow reports. (KING)

Peru oil spill pollutes Amazon rivers used by indigenous group
At least 3,000 barrels of crude oil have been spilled in an Amazonian region after leaks from Peru's main oil pipeline, the state oil company said. The oil has polluted two rivers that at least eight indigenous communities rely on for water, the government and indigenous leaders said. Petroperu has promised a full clean-up and is also providing food and water. The company said the first leak was triggered by a landslide but the cause of the second rupture was unclear. (BBC)

Is The BP Oil Spill Settlement Money Being Well-Spent?
ome $25 billion is headed to the five Gulf states that were devastated in the 2010 BP oil disaster. Just a fraction of the government fines and court settlements have been paid — but not all of it will end up repairing the damaged ecosystem. Louisiana, which suffered the most damage in the spill, has used the fines and settlements to rebuild its coast, one that was already fragile and disappearing. When it took a direct hit from the BP disaster, oil choked off vegetation that is critical to holding together what land is left. Fourchon Beach on the Caminada Headlands "was and has historically been one of the fastest-eroding beach headlands in North America," says Joni Tuck, grants administrator of the Greater Lafourche Port Commission. It was down to a narrow strip held together by vegetation. Debbie Elliott reports. (NPR)

Public hearing on Energize Eastside EIS is Feb. 27
Residents can offer comments and learn more about the Energize Eastside environmental impact statement at an upcoming open house. Newcastle and other Eastside cities are currently evaluating the environmental impacts of Puget Sound Energy’s Energize Eastside project. PSE is proposing to construct a new transformer served by new high-capacity electric transmission lines extending from Renton to Redmond, through Newcastle. View the Phase 1 Draft EIS and submit written comments at the Energize Eastside EIS website. Submit comments in-person at a Feb. 27 open house/public hearing in Newcastle. The open house goes from 2-4 p.m. Saturday at Newcastle Elementary School, 8400 136th Ave. S.E. The Newcastle City Council recently enacted a moratorium on new utility transmission lines in response to Energize Eastside. (Newcastle News)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA-  423 AM PST WED FEB 24 2016  

SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY FOR HAZARDOUS SEAS IN EFFECT THROUGH LATE
 TONIGHT  

TODAY
 E WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 5 FT  AT 11 SECONDS...BUILDING TO 10 FT AT 17 SECONDS. A CHANCE OF  RAIN.

TONIGHT
 LIGHT WIND. WIND WAVES LESS THAN 1 FT. W SWELL 9 TO 11  FT AT 14 SECONDS.

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"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato@salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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