Monday, March 21, 2016

3/21 Mussel test, xylene, BC LNG, Roberts Bank algae, toxic jewelry, farm fish, sewage dog, steelhead, Vic sewer

Eastern towhee (Mark Peck/BirdNote)
Celebrating the Vernal Equinox
The vernal equinox, the first day of spring. The moment when the sun is directly above the equator, and day and night are nearly equal all over the world. Yet birds sense the growing hours of daylight through a surge of hormones. It’s time to sing! Both science and folklore tie spring to the renewal of nature, as the world awakens from the long cold winter. (BirdNote)

Mussels help researchers track toxins in Puget Sound
A group of University of Washington students spent Friday morning shucking mussels at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's lab in Olympia. They had thousands of mussels to shuck for their study on contaminants in Puget Sound, so volunteer groups are helping out until the work is complete. Once removed from the shell, the soft tissue is blended and homogenized, then sent for testing to see what toxic contaminants stormwater is leeching into Puget Sound. The mussels were planted at more than 60 locations around the sound and left for three months. Mussels are good indicators of contaminants in water systems because they are filter feeders. The contaminants in their food remain in their soft tissue for several months. Alison Morrow reports. (KING)

Skagit County requiring environmental review of Tesoro xylene project
Skagit County will require an environmental review for the Tesoro Anacortes Refinery’s proposed $400 million xylene project. The review, called an environmental impact statement, determines what impact the project will have on the environment and what steps can be taken to mitigate those impacts…. he project involves multiple additions to the refinery. The most notable is a unit that can extract xylene from crude oil, which will allow the refinery to expand its product line. Aaron Weinberg reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Fish habitat worries stalls approval of B.C.'s Pacific NorthWest LNG project
A federal review of the $12-billion Pacific NorthWest LNG facility in northwest B.C. has been granted a three-month extension. It further delays an already-drawn out decision on a major energy transportation project meant to open up new markets for natural gas in Asia. The extension was granted by federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna at the request of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency which has continuing concerns about the project’s effect on fish habitat. A key concern from First Nations, environmentalists, and area residents has been the potential harm the project could have on eelgrass beds on Flora Bank, adjacent to Lelu Island, the proposed location of the terminal. The eelgrass beds are considered prime habitat for juvenile salmon. Gordon Hoekstra reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Squamish Woodfibre LNG project gets federal environmental approval
The federal minister of environment and climate change has approved the environmental assessment of a controversial LNG project near Squamish, B.C. The Squamish mayor and residents of the coastal town have repeatedly voiced their concerns and opposition to the proposed Woodfibre LNG project, which is expected to produce and export up to 2.1 million tonnes of LNG per year. (CBC)

Natural gas industry could dwindle without LNG facilities
…. Historically, the United States has been the main buyer of Canada's oil, natural gas, propane and other petroleum goods. In the last five years, this relationship, symbiotic for so long, has seen profound changes as commodity prices have fallen and U.S. production has undergone a dramatic reversal of fortune because of the emergence of prolific shale oil and gas plays. Kyle Bakx reports. (CBC News)

Tiny algae could block Metro Vancouver’s Roberts Bank container expansion
The annual spring bloom of microscopic algae coinciding with the migration of hundreds of thousands of western sandpipers could pose a roadblock for Port Metro Vancouver’s planned $2-billion expansion at Roberts Bank in South Delta. Bob Elner, an adjunct professor at Simon Fraser University and emeritus scientist with Environment Canada, describes the discovery of the diatom bloom as the “most important science” of his career. The “precautionary principle” should apply to port plans to ensure development does not alter the specific conditions that make Roberts Bank so productive for the sandpipers, he said. Larry Pynn reports. (Vancouver Sun)

B.C.’s most endangered rivers include the Seymour and Fraser
The Seymour River in North Vancouver topped the most endangered waterways list for the Lower Mainland, as a result of a December 2014 rockslide that blocked the return of early coho and summer steelhead stocks, according to the most recent survey by the Outdoor Recreation Council. The river shared the distinction with the Lower Fraser River, which placed high on the list due to pressures from urbanization and industrial development such as port expansions and a proposed bridge to replace the Massey Tunnel. Recent studies have indicated that aboriginal fish catches could diminish by up to 50 per cent by 2050 in the Fraser as marine species move up the coast in search of cooler waters. Kelly Sinoski reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Packaged with girls’ dresses, jewelry tested off charts for toxics
One necklace for young girls was more than 98 percent cadmium. Another was more than 5 percent lead. With Easter and the first day of spring around the corner, pretty dresses are flying out of the stores and piling up in online shopping carts. But tests by the state Department of Ecology show chances are dangerously high that some of those dresses are adorned with jewelry loaded with toxic metals. Of 27 pieces of jewelry packaged with dresses that Ecology randomly purchased last October and tested, five had extraordinarily high levels of cadmium and lead. Ecology purchased the dresses both in brick-and-mortar stores, and online. The dresses are marketed specifically to parents of young children — the very group at the greatest exposure risk, either from swallowing the jewelry, mouthing it or frequent hand-to-mouth contact. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

Nutritional value of fish may be reduced by farming, study finds
About half of the seafood people consume around the globe now comes from farms, but efforts to make fish a sustainable food source by raising it in a tank instead of letting it grow wild may mean it’s losing its main nutritional selling point. Omega-3 fatty acids found naturally in fish have been shown to improve cardiovascular health and possibly are staving off other maladies such as cancer. Levels of the fats, however, likely are being altered by a shift at the farms from feed made from fish meal and oil to plant-based feed, according to an analysis by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researchers. Meredith Cohn reports. (Baltimore Sun)

Canine sniffs out sewage in the Samish River watershed
With the sun shining and the air crisp, Thursday morning was a great time to walk a dog. For Crush, an illicit discharge detection and elimination animal, the walk along Skagit County streets was business. Crush can sniff out fecal matter and tell the difference between human and animal sources. Fecal pollution has been a problem in the Samish River for several years, leading to occasional shellfish harvest closures in Samish Bay. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Ocean acidification putting marine life at risk, study finds 
A new study, based on the most extensive set of measurements ever made in tide pools, suggests that ocean acidification will increasingly put many marine organisms at risk by exacerbating normal changes in ocean chemistry that occur overnight. Conducted along California’s rocky coastline, the study shows that the most vulnerable organisms are likely to be those with calcium carbonate shells or skeletons…. Kristy Kroeker, assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, is a coauthor of the new study, published Friday in Scientific Reports. (Tribune News Service)

Ecology proposes changing boatyard regulations
The state Department of Ecology is updating the water quality permit that requires boatyards to control toxic stormwater and wastewater discharges…. The work done at boatyards to repair and maintain boats, such as pressure washing, painting, engine repair, welding and grinding, can release chemicals such as copper, lead and zinc, according to an Ecology news release. If those chemicals get into waterways, they can harm aquatic life. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Fishery managers get creative on how to shape summer fishing seasons despite poor wild coho runs
The wild coho forecasts are way down this year mainly along the coast and inner-Puget Sound, but it appears fishery managers are hard at work trying to create salmon fishing seasons for healthy hatchery chinook and coho returns as well as other species like sockeye and chum. The federal agency developed three options for ocean salmon fishing seasons this past week, and include a high option of 58,600 chinook and 37,800 coho; middle option of 30,000 chinook and 14,700 coho; and a no fishing option. It is unlikely that the no fishing option will be issued this summer based on the strong hatchery salmon returns. Mark Yuasa reports. (Seattle Times)

Steelhead plans unfolding at federal, state and local levels
Developments continue to be made regarding Puget Sound steelhead management, which could influence whether a hatchery program reopens on the Skagit River….The state Department of Fish & Wildlife announced Thursday that it selected a river in the Columbia River watershed to use as a wild steelhead gene bank…. The Skagit and Sauk rivers are among those being considered. If the Skagit River is designated as a wild steelhead gene bank, it would prohibit steelhead hatchery operations indefinitely. Fish & Wildlife spokesman Craig Bartlett said the agency plans to announce the remaining gene bank selections by the end of March. Gene banks, also known as wild fish management zones, allow wild fish populations to recover without interference from hatchery fish. Wild Puget Sound steelhead, including the Skagit River population, were listed as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act in 2007. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Black Press reports on Sewage In The CRD in a series of articles: Tackling the treatment issuePressure on to find a solution, Halifax's $330 million sewage solution

Stream restoration near Lake Stevens teaches the importance of salmon habitat
As president of the National Junior Honor Society at Olympic View Middle School, Maya Green needs to complete 20 hours of community service. By 11 a.m. Saturday, she was starting her 21st hour. Green, 14, of Mukilteo, was in the work party at Catherine Creek in Lake Stevens. She and her classmates joined volunteers from the Adopt A Stream Foundation in planting more than 500 native spruce, cedar, fir and shrub saplings in the watershed near Grade Road. Rikki King reports. (Everett Herald)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA-  224 AM PDT MON MAR 21 2016  

TODAY
 SE WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 8 FT  AT 15 SECONDS. SHOWERS. A CHANCE OF AFTERNOON TSTMS.

TONIGHT
 SE WIND 5 TO 15 KT...BECOMING SW TO 10 KT AFTER MIDNIGHT.  WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 8 FT AT 14 SECONDS. SHOWERS AND A  CHANCE OF TSTMS IN THE EVENING...THEN A CHANCE OF SHOWERS AFTER  MIDNIGHT.

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